New consumer research from ASTA released this month revealed that more travelers are likely to use an advisor today than they were a year ago. That’s great news for the trade, but so is this: Nearly half, 49%, of survey respondents agreed with the idea that “in today’s environment, the expertise of a travel advisor will put me more at ease about my travel plans.”
The word “expertise” is particularly important there.
Not feeling experienced enough is a common argument advisors use against charging fees.
A Travel Weekly survey conducted earlier this year found that of the respondents who didn’t charge fees, 16% said, “I don’t think my tenure in the industry is long enough to demand a fee.”
But if the traveling public already sees advisors as professionals with expertise, that hurdle to charging fees becomes a bit easier to jump over.
Charging fees has been a hot topic in the advisor community for some time, especially with the number of agents who started charging fees, or changed their fee schedule, due to the pandemic.
In fact, when we asked advisors to submit questions for the fourth season of Trade Secrets, the Q&A-style podcast I co-host with Emma Weissmann of TravelAge West, fees were one of the most common themes.
So, we’re kicking off season four with another episode on fees. That was the topic of a season two episode, but there’s always more to talk about, and we’ll be tackling it anew. Season four will premiere in May, but before then, here are some words of wisdom from that season two episode.
Jamie Jones, president of WhirlAway Travel in West Chester, Pa., was one of the guests. Here’s her advice for advisors when it comes to charging fees.
“We’ve really positioned ourselves that travel is the product, but they’re buying our service,” Jones said. “They’re very different things.”
Jones trains new advisors about consulting with clients by asking probing questions. It’s about figuring out what makes them happy, she said.
“Our goal is to create long-term relationships with them,” Jones said. “So, we get really deep with our clients.”
As far as what to charge when it comes to fees, Jones said, “You really just have to figure out how much you value yourself and the time that you’re putting into it and what you want to make. I mean, that’s the beauty of being an independent business owner or an independent contractor, is that you really get to set your rate and you get to set what you expect to make and how you want to live.”
If you’d like to submit a question on anything travel related — not just fees — for us to tackle on Trade Secrets, send an email to trad[email protected]. And be sure to tune into season four.
Keep an eye on Travel Weekly’s Folo podcast, as well. Jones will be on an upcoming episode discussing Travel Weekly’s fee survey and more.