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  #31 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
For a new client coming by referral, we charge a couple $150 consultation fee and require them to fill out an application for us to take them on as a client. If they are accepted, their fee is deposited. If not, their fee is returned. This is for a cruise experience which is much more than just the air to get them to the port, the pre/post cruise hotel arrangements and excursions in the ports of call. People are paying us not for opinion but for our advice and time. The COST of the trip is completely separate from our services.

There is a higher level concierge service we offer for unlimited booking throughout the year. That is limited to 50 clients only who fill out an even more detailed questionnaire and there is currently a waiting list. At this level, we are not only arranging their travel, but if they ask they get services from a cleaning service to tidy their home before their return to their pets being taken to the kennel to limo service to and from the airport and the port.

Not everyone pays it but I promise you when our phone rings it is someone we want to talk to and not a price shopper or tire kicker.

Wow - That's a bit much. I'm a TA and would consider you to be over the top and wouldn't even consider using you. You must be in a bif city where people really have money to burn.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 09:52 AM
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Actually I am in a small county but have clients from all over the country through repeat and referral business. The cost of the vacation does not cost more using me than anywhere else. I am not selling travel at all but my advice and expertise. No one is forced to use me, but I am also not chasing $199 cruise passengers either.

I am also able to close 95% of my quotes. If that 5% chooses to try and shop, they are more than welcome as I have already been paid for my time. What I am selling cannot be Googled. If someone says, "XYZ travel is offering pre-paid insurance will I match?" I tell them be sure to check the policies out and make sure they are the same. Otherwise, I wish them well.

I consider myself a professional who deserves to be compensated for my time. If you engage the services of a professional, expect to pay them. I just had my taxes filed and used a professional CPA. He made sure I rendered unto Caesar the minimum amount and for that service her charged a fee. With my fee, I make sure my clients get an experience they cannot find on their own.

Recently a client tried to shop for pre-paid gratuities. I had found they were actually going to pay more for their "Free" gratuities because the agency was not allowing them to book with a senior and resident discount for the same stateroom.

Most clients are not going to shop when they have already invested a healthy chunk of change by retaining your services.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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That's the point - I don't think there is a TA out there who is worth having to pay a "consultation" fee for. And I at least know what I'm talking about.

On the other side of the coin I also don't believe any client has the right or should have the expectation of getting a kick back from the TA's commission. I won't even discuss that with a client. If that issue comes up I will tell them point blank - no.

Are you available to your clients 24/7 when they are on their vacation? And I mean if they call you from Timbuctoo because something has gone wrong - do you deal with those issues? Do you go that extra mile after the fact and I don't mean walk the dog.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
Are you available to your clients 24/7 when they are on their vacation? And I mean if they call you from Timbuctoo because something has gone wrong - do you deal with those issues? Do you go that extra mile after the fact and I don't mean walk the dog.
Yes. It is what my clients are paying for.

I am not available 24/7 for those clients who found a price drop at midnight and want to grab it before it goes away. Sorry but that does not fall into my definition of emergency availability.
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
Yes. It is what my clients are paying for.

I am not available 24/7 for those clients who found a price drop at midnight and want to grab it before it goes away. Sorry but that does not fall into my definition of emergency availability.
eh the difference between you and me. I am available 24/7 even for messages like that. If I can do it online at midnight I will otherwise it's the first thing I do in the morning.

btw - your clients are paying for exactly that service.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
For a new client coming by referral, we charge a couple $150 consultation fee and require them to fill out an application for us to take them on as a client. If they are accepted, their fee is deposited. If not, their fee is returned. This is for a cruise experience which is much more than just the air to get them to the port, the pre/post cruise hotel arrangements and excursions in the ports of call. People are paying us not for opinion but for our advice and time. The COST of the trip is completely separate from our services.

There is a higher level concierge service we offer for unlimited booking throughout the year. That is limited to 50 clients only who fill out an even more detailed questionnaire and there is currently a waiting list. At this level, we are not only arranging their travel, but if they ask they get services from a cleaning service to tidy their home before their return to their pets being taken to the kennel to limo service to and from the airport and the port.

Not everyone pays it but I promise you when our phone rings it is someone we want to talk to and not a price shopper or tire kicker.
If that business model works then PT Barnum was right.......
You don't have to bother sending me the application form
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
eh the difference between you and me. I am available 24/7 even for messages like that. If I can do it online at midnight I will otherwise it's the first thing I do in the morning.

btw - your clients are paying for exactly that service.
My client's first of all are not the type of be scanning for a drop in price anyway. They are not the client's I am seeking. Let me ask you, do you charge for client initiated changes? If not, why not?

If you start painting a house and suddenly decide to change colors, think the painter is go to not charge you for the labor already done?

I am always in shock when I find a travel agent not charging for their services.
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
If that business model works then PT Barnum was right.......
You don't have to bother sending me the application form
I jsut have to agree with 150% on this Kuki. You put it must shorter than I did.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
My client's first of all are not the type of be scanning for a drop in price anyway. They are not the client's I am seeking. Let me ask you, do you charge for client initiated changes? If not, why not?

If you start painting a house and suddenly decide to change colors, think the painter is go to not charge you for the labor already done?

I am always in shock when I find a travel agent not charging for their services.

I don't agree with your anology and I wouldn't even consider charging for a change to a booking. I think that's a ego trip on your part. If you charge $150 per and you have I believe you said, 100 clients that's only $15,000. Not much for an ego trip.

I think I'll just agree with Kuki on this one - there's one born every minute.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
If that business model works then PT Barnum was right.......
You don't have to bother sending me the application form
Yep, you gave the same insulting snarky response last year when this topic came up. While TA's around me have been closing their doors, I was still in business. From a sales perspective, I am also now 18% ahead of last year's sales as this quarter comes to an end over all of last years.

What you call suckers are my bread and butter clients. I guess those people who engage the services of the likes of Bill Fischer are suckers too. No one forces them to pay.

Those who are well traveled and no the ins and outs of cruising forget there are MILLIONS of people who do not. There are people who want desire hand holding and customer service who will pay for it and handsomely.

Every TA I know who has moved to concierge type of services like we offer have lost some clients yet they are far more successful from a business perspective and personal perspective as well than they ever were using the current commission only model.
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
I don't agree with your anology and I wouldn't even consider charging for a change to a booking. I think that's a ego trip on your part. If you charge $150 per and you have I believe you said, 100 clients that's only $15,000. Not much for an ego trip.

I think I'll just agree with Kuki on this one - there's one born every minute.
By the way, I only charge for client initiated changes. If I am able to find a client an upgrade, a better stateroom or a price reduction, I do it without charge. I have also never had a client take the price reduction. In the past year, 100% of them went for the upgrade and experienced something better for the price that had already agreed.

My 50 clients on my highest plan pay $1000 a year. You do that math. I start at $150 per couple for every booking. Families are higher. Those 45 are just FITs.

I have four groups I am personally escorting of an average of 50 staterooms per sailing over the next 18 months. No initial charge for those, but you make it with markups and those are far more easier to manage. And yes there are cancellation charges as well. There are other groups on the books as well like family reunions etc.
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 11:14 AM
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What arrogance!
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
Yep, you gave the same insulting snarky response last year when this topic came up. While TA's around me have been closing their doors, I was still in business. From a sales perspective, I am also now 18% ahead of last year's sales as this quarter comes to an end over all of last years.
If you can make a living with that business model then that's fine for you. It's certainly not a service I would recommend to anyone.

As for insulting and snarky... that seems to be the attitude you display (with your own words here) towards your own clients, rather than appreciating them and the fact they are supplying you with a livliehood.

On one hand you're dealing with them to offer them your superb service yet your primary concern is whether you're "leaving money on the table".

I have friends who's net worth is in the 100s of millions of dollars, and none of them throw their money away. They still watch to see where they can save, even when purchasing higher priced vacations. That's one of the ways they got to be multi millionaires.

But I admit there's likely some folks who simply pay. I was offered an Am Ex Black Card. The fee for the card was $5000 per year, and I saw little value in it, other than "status", so I simply tossed it and the fancy box it came in into the trash. Yet, there are people who carry the card. And yes, I think they are suckers!
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 01:27 PM
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I have to again, agree with Kuki and Kimopolo - first what arrogance.

Secondly after re-reading your posting I realize - yes your go for the newbe that knows nothing - therefore those are the ones who would think they have to have to go with someone like you. Sad really - it's someone like you that ruin it for the rest of us.

You are absolutely no better than the rest of us, you offer nothing more than many of us do - except your sucker people into paying you for it. What crap.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
I have to again, agree with Kuki and Kimopolo - first what arrogance.

Secondly after re-reading your posting I realize - yes your go for the newbe that knows nothing - therefore those are the ones who would think they have to have to go with someone like you. Sad really - it's someone like you that ruin it for the rest of us.
When suppliers go to a net environment and I do believe that day is coming, I know I will be ahead of the game.

Are you an order taker or a service provider? Are you a booking engine or are you offering information and advice that cannot be Googled? Can you pick up the phone and reach the top people at a variety of hotels and cruise lines? We offer a service and we serve our clients, but we do not and never have worked for free. We do not and never will let our suppliers determine our worth and our value. Our clients and our market do that for us. It is not just a newbie who does that, but someone who does not have the time to cultivate the relationships that we have nor research their vacation.

Quote:
You are absolutely no better than the rest of us, you offer nothing more than many of us do - except your sucker people into paying you for it. What crap.
I never said I was better. I am different and you cannot compare me to what you do by any stretch of the imagination. We never make people pay us. We put ourselves out as offering a service and that is what people pay for. Wouldn't you like the freedom to know that when your phone rings it is someone who you want to work with? Our customers are the most important thing to us, but we have never had to work with anyone. We get to choose our clients and believe me more want to work with us than we can service.

I count scores of travel agents who are constantly asking for a provider that pays commission be it a shore excursion or a transfer. To me that shows they are thinking for of them and not for their clients. When I make a booking, my clients come first rather what I am paid as a reward for bringing client and supplier together. Not every supplier is the right fit for every clients and it is shameful to bring those together when there is no benefit to the client.

Why such hostility? Is it jealousy that I get to love what I do and get paid for it because I have found clients whose time is valuable to them and they are willing to pay for a service? Is it jealousy because of my success? Who knows? I wish you well in your endeavours. I go back to my old analogy. You can change your own oil, do your own taxes and even defend yourself in court, or you can pay a professional to do it for you. I put myself in the same category as a professional and as such earn my living as one.

Last edited by Amberderossi; March 26th, 2010 at 02:23 PM.
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 02:35 PM
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Amberderossi...

Do NOT let the detractors get to you...

Kuki - that is like saying "why would I pay to go on Silversea when Carnival also has free food and sails to the same destinations?"

The point is that Amber is providing a premium service for the people who can afford it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

IF I had that kind of money where I traveled frequently and could get all of the service I wanted for one price per year I would gladly do it.

I am just a little surprised at the naivety of some of Amber's detractors here. Of course there is a clientele of people who are not interested in taking the years we have dedicated to learning the cruise business - but they do want to book vacations including cruises and want the best advice and quick answers to all their questions.

It is like having a full service stock broker - if I didn't understand stocks and options, but I had a few million dollars, would I go the e-Trade and make all my own stock decisions just because their commission is lower than a full service broker?

No - that would be stupid. Sometimes paying people for the knowledge you don't already have is more than worth it, on a cost and time-investment basis - it just depends on what you can afford.
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Amberderossi...

Do NOT let the detractors get to you...
I don't nor do I think badly of those who do not charge a fee nor do not use my services.

Quote:
It is like having a full service stock broker - if I didn't understand stocks and options, but I had a few million dollars, would I go the e-Trade and make all my own stock decisions just because their commission is lower than a full service broker?
Our model is just like that of the fee only financial planner. People with "100's of millions" use their services too and they certainly are not suckers. We are not tied into any one vendor or cruise line though many of them do pay commission. Our first and foremost customer is that of our client and when they pay a fee they are entrusting us to make the right advice for them, their family and both their wants and needs for a vacation. And yes we do find the best value for those vacation dollars. We also do not sell the lower end mass market cruises either unless grandma wants to take her whole family on a cruise and is paying for it.
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 03:32 PM
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The problem is Paul - he doesn't offer one bit of service that I don't and he's trying to say he's better than me. That is the crap I don't want to step in.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #49 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 03:34 PM
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I am kind of surprised people are not aware of such services. Certainly Virtuoso, Valerie Wilson and other such agencies that generally only sell luxury travel with a LOT of cruises have been successful with this business modelfor years. One size does not fit all.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
The problem is Paul - he doesn't offer one bit of service that I don't and he's trying to say he's better than me. That is the crap I don't want to step in.
Please point out where I have once said that I was better than you? I even posted that I was different not better.

I am saying that you and many other travel agents are doing a lot of work for nothing or for very little compensation as determined by your supplier.
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  #51 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 03:43 PM
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Felix - then the question is "why don't you emulate his business model which seems to be rather successful" rather than saying there is anything wrong with what he does.

I certainly did not pick any such talk that he is "better than" anyone else. He just appeals to a different market.

Is Macdonalds as a corporation better than a high end restaurant? not necessarily, one works on volume and sells less expensive food while the latter only has a few select clients that want to buy the cream of the crop and are willing to pay more.

McDonalds makes more money but works a lot harder.

I am sure you are fully quailified to sell the same cruises he sells - but it isn't up to him to change your business model, that is up to you.

I hate to say it, but you just sound a little jealous.

To start such an agency requires setting up shop in an exclusive neighborhood - La Jolla, Beverly Hills, Stanford Connecticut, Palm Beach - usually a storefront. It can take sevarl years to build up a clientele and it usually is done by word of mouth.

maybe it is time to think about this kind of change - because when the day comes that travel agents get "disintermediated" it is going to be the low-cost cruises that get purchased directly first. The highend people will continue to prefer to just call their travel agent and say "I have two weeks in June, I'm thinking Asia, what can you do for me" and the next day they have a typed out itinerary with plane tickets, a rental car, overnight hotel, transportation to the cruise ship and flights home" delivered to their office by overnight Fedex. All they had to do was make a phone call.

THAT end of the business will always be there. Need I remind you there a millions of millionaires in this country? Not all of them shop this way. but some of them do.

If i ever become an agent (and I have never ruled it out based on what I know) I would definitely go this route myself. My Mantra in life is to "go where the money is." I have made too many businesses in life where I went lowball and tried to compete on volume. It's too hard.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 04:06 PM
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I actually do not have a storefront but work out of a home office and as such have a much lower overhead. I am also not in a necessarily exclusive community either. However in every networking event and Rotary meeting I attended when first starting out I put myself out as an expert and as a fee based cruise consultant.

I can run this business and have from around the world with an internet connection and a magic jack. I have had a few clients who took lower end sailings just because they love to cruise and had the time to get away. However it is not the business I am seeking.

How many times have you or any agent reading this presented a quote to a client to have them not return you call or email? Have you ever looked at your commission and then looked at how much time you REALLY spent on that booking? Whether it takes you hours or minutes does not matter, those are the results that your clients are paying for.

Having a fee saves you time because you are no longer dealing with calls or emails that do not get returned. There are two types of people in the world, those that you can help and those you cannot. I concentrate on those that I can help and I do charge for it.

And believe it or not, I do give away a lot of information through social media and blogs because I do believe you have to give before you get. However in any business, you will be taken advantage of if you give everything away for free.

At my point in my life, I am not auditioning to be anyone's travel agent.
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  #53 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 04:08 PM
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Be that as it may - a couple of things. I live in a blue collar area - but more importantly - I'm in Canada. Just can't do it that way. Luckily we have TICO here in Ontario which is to help protect the consumer.

I'm not jealous - I definitely would like to make more than the pittence we make now. However that can't be here - I guess in the U.S. it's different.

It's just that everything he/she said he/she does I already do - as far as I'm concerned there is really no difference between us.

But jealous - not a chance. I'm too old to be jealous. I retire from my day job in 3.5 weeks. (Day job is not travel agent job). I would never give up the travel agent job. For as little as we make, I really and truly enjoy it.
__________________
Celebrity Constellation - March 17 followed by Celebrity Reflection - March 22

44 cruises - too many to list however cruiselines are in no particular order:

Azamara
Uniworld
RCL
Princess
NCL
HAL
Cunard
Celebrity
and some unknown tub

Yes, I'm a Royal Chump and proud of it.
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  #54 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
Be that as it may - a couple of things. I live in a blue collar area - but more importantly - I'm in Canada. Just can't do it that way. Luckily we have TICO here in Ontario which is to help protect the consumer.
I am really curious what does TICO have to do with charging a professional consultation fee? You never know if can't do it that way until you do it.

I have a friend who does speeches about this subject to TA's across the country. His condo neighbor is an electrician. When he was about to hang up his utility belt because at $35 for his service call was not covering his costs for his tool maintenance, truck, insurance, and his competition was competing on volume and only charging $25 for a service call. My friend told the electrician to raise his call fee to $125 since he was going to quit anyway.

Within six months several of the $25 service call competition was out of business and the electrician had a few employees and more trucks. He has a one page website but that one page says everything about his work and what he does.

My fee is not for travel at all so I have no idea how TICO would affect someone in Canada and how the consumer would need protecting?
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  #55 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 05:01 PM
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I saw this on Twitter and this so fits what we are talking about. from @Thebrandbuilder

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  #56 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2010, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
I am really curious what does TICO have to do with charging a professional consultation fee? You never know if can't do it that way until you do it.

I have a friend who does speeches about this subject to TA's across the country. His condo neighbor is an electrician. When he was about to hang up his utility belt because at $35 for his service call was not covering his costs for his tool maintenance, truck, insurance, and his competition was competing on volume and only charging $25 for a service call. My friend told the electrician to raise his call fee to $125 since he was going to quit anyway.

Within six months several of the $25 service call competition was out of business and the electrician had a few employees and more trucks. He has a one page website but that one page says everything about his work and what he does.

My fee is not for travel at all so I have no idea how TICO would affect someone in Canada and how the consumer would need protecting?

Well, now you've hit my other half - he is a master electrician so there really isn't anything you can tell me about that. Yes, call out rate must be at least $70 an hours around here. But that is for a tangible service not just a consultation.

TICO - along with the provincial and federal governments lay the rules here. One must be with an agency and cannot just set up shop at home and declare themselves an travel agent. There are educational requirements for TICO that have to be met before you can sell travel. There are government regulations none of which I'm going into here. However I will say you can't just set up here in Ontario just because you want to.

Anyway, I'm going to leave this conversation now. You are in the U.S., you're laws (or lack thereof) are different.

Yes, btw, you can charge a service fee here - but the agency is in control of that and how much etc. The one I'm with doesn't therefore I can't even if I wanted to.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 09:47 PM
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I have so many things I'd like to say now, but I'm just not able .

I'll just say that I'm much more likely to agree with the "regular" poster's on CM's than anyone else. Whew ...
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Old March 26th, 2010, 09:54 PM
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Good thread.
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Old March 27th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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In my role as a consultant, it is my job to make sure that my clients get the cruise experience that is right for them. As I tell people, how CHEAP does a bad vacation have to be for it to be okay? Many of the posters on here have many cruises under their belts and are quite experienced in knowing what they want from a cruise vacation.

They forget that there are many more who have never taken an initial cruise. My model is to serve those customers as well and be compensated for my years of experience as well as my knowledge and advice. I could concentrate on high volume, but why work harder and not smarter? Going after $199 cruises to make $2/3 and sometimes even lose money does not make sense to me.

Why shouldn't we be compensated for our time? You pay legal fees if found guilty and your estate pays medical bills if you die. We should be paid for our time if a client has to cancel. A good insurance policy will cover all non-refundable portions of a cruise vacation including my service fee.

We do romance our customers and appreciate the investment and trust they have made in us. We know not everyone is going to pay for our service and that is okay by us. With a waiting list to be on our highest plan, we know we are doing the right business model.

We have switched to a model where our client's support our living and not one that relies on an ever dwindling commission from our suppliers. Our client's find that our consultation is worth the peace of mind and insurance. It is not a booking fee or a deposit. It is the charge we have just like a fee based investment adviser has for his services. And we do offer a service.

We know there are other agencies out there that do not charge a consultation fee and we welcome our prospects to go that route if they wish. We just know they would be getting a different experience than the one we offer.

You can choose to brew your coffee at home for far less than a cup at Starbucks, but your experience will be entirely different.
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Old March 27th, 2010, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
We know there are other agencies out there that do not charge a consultation fee and we welcome our prospects to go that route if they wish. We just know they would be getting a different experience than the one we offer.
As I've said previously, if the business model works for you, by all means go ahead.

To your statement above, I have to say not necessarily. I know alot of outstanding and very experienced cruise travel agents who I'm betting supply service equal to anything you can provide... who love their jobs, know the industry inside and out and work within the commission structure, without charging additional fees.

Since you like to make comparisons... here's a recent transaction I'm familiar with. I have a friend who just bought a 4200 sq. ft. vacation home in Arizona for over $1 million. He's actually been hunting for 2 years before he found the home he wanted for the price wanted.

Had the real estate agent told him they expected to be paid a "consultation fee" for their expertise, he'd have looked for another agent. Or had they turned him away as a "tire kicker" because he didn't buy on the first go around, they would have lost out on a very significant payday.

Instead the agent kept watching the market, and stayed in contact presenting more properties they felt he might be interested in. Over the 2 years they established a relationship, and the agent is now also going to oversee the renovation they've decided to proceed with, and is being paid 10% of the construction renovation costs because the owners are from out of town.

There are many travel agents who participate in these message boards and share their expertise without payment in advance. They may do it hoping to make some connections, but most likely do it because they love their industry, and don't mind lending people a hand.

Honestly, I personally prefer to deal with agents like that. But then, I've been here more than 10 years doing the same thing without making big bucks for it either.
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