Skip to main content

How Can Travel Agents Protect Client Relationships with Hotels?

I heard recently that an old problem I thought we had vanquished has re-emerged. This is the situation in which the travel advisor has a client looking for meeting/event space or maybe is working with a group that is interested in hotel options before making a commitment. The travel advisor may actually visit the candidate properties with the client for a visual inspection of rooms and conference or other relevant space. Then, an ugly surprise occurs when the hotel contacts the client directly to offer a “better deal” that bypasses the advisor who initiated the contact.
This often led to cries of “Foul,” based on some vague idea of business ethics. While there is merit in doing business in a way that respects the contributions of others, ethics, sadly, is a weak reed on which to depend in this, and most other, highly competitive industries.
There is a straightforward way to protect yourself against this kind of client capture. Forewarning: Using this approach may lead to faux reactions of personal dismay that anyone would possibly think the hotel would do such a thing as divert a client brought by their trusted partners in the travel advisor business.
The response is: “This isn’t about you. It’s a standard business practice I use in every case where I am introducing my clients to suppliers. In the end, the decision to pre-empt me may not be yours. My approach prevents later awkwardness for everyone involved. Why don’t we just execute this short agreement and move on to the revenue opportunity for both of us in our mutual effort to make my client happy?” Or words close to that effect.
Travel advisors tend to be easy marks for this kind of thing and are sometimes reluctant to show the hotel that they are concerned about the hotel’s management when trying to negotiate an event deal. It’s a tough spot, but you must exercise self-help in these cases and, if the hotel refuses, you should take the client elsewhere.
Execute a preemptive agreement
The technique here is to present the hotel with a short agreement before exposing a client to anyone there. The thrust of the agreement is that the inspection of the property is for the possibility of bringing business to the hotel and that the hotel agrees not to interfere with the agent-client relationship by offering a better deal to go direct.
This agreement does not have to be complicated or use a lot of technical languages. The reality is that, in most cases, the travel advisor is not going to sue a hotel for violating the agreement; the advisor will simply stop doing business with that property or company, and, hopefully, let them know why. No, the real point of the agreement is to imprint in the hotel management’s mind that you are bringing them a business opportunity and that you expect to be treated respectfully. In most cases, that will do the trick. If not, you know what to do.
As for the exact content of the agreement, it does not require complex legal language. The essential elements include: a sentence identifying all the parties (but not providing identifying information about the client – don’t become an enabler of the bypass); a few sentences about why you are inspecting the hotel; and a statement that the parties (you and the hotel) agree that the hotel will take no action to circumvent your role in bringing them this business and will pay your commission, as agreed, if the client hires the property. It is, as usual, most wise to consult your counsel to draft the agreement, or at least review your draft.

How Can Travel Agents Protect Client Relationships with Hotels?
One last observation: Language matters. When you are guiding a client through a property inspection, be clear to the property management that the client is depending on you for a recommendation. You are not simply along to provide transportation to various hotels. You are an essential part of the deal that will, or will not, be made. Be subtle but clear: I am a “player” in this transaction. Doing this will help management understand that they need to treat you properly or face consequences.

Try our hotel price comparison API to let your clients have a more transparent price to look out for.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Warren Buffett: “Really Successful People Say No To Almost Everything”

When I tell people that Warren Buffett follows the 5-Hour Rule and spends 80% of his time reading and thinking, they have an immediate and predictable reaction: “Well, he can do that because he’s Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world. I could never do that.” While this response may help people feel better about themselves, it certainly won’t make them smarter. Because the reality is: Buffett has spent most of his time reading and thinking since he was in grade school. Having more money or managing a large company doesn’t magically give you free time. Having free time is never the default. People don’t just fall into huge blocks of free time unless they retire. Rather, free time is the result of strategy. It’s the result of looking at time differently. Curious about Buffett’s unique strategies, I’ve read several books about him, read most of his annual letters to stockholders, and watched nearly all of his interviews. And make no mistake about it… behind Buffett’s jovia…

Cheat Sheets for AI, Neural Networks, Machine Learning, Deep Learning & Big Data

Over the past few months, I have been collecting AI cheat sheets. From time to time I share them with friends and colleagues and recently I have been getting asked a lot, so I decided to organize and share the entire collection. To make things more interesting and give context, I added descriptions and/or excerpts for each major topic. This is the most complete list and the Big-O is at the very end, enjoy… If you like this list, you can let me know here Neural Networks

Neural Networks Cheat Sheet Neural Networks Graphs

Neural Networks Graphs Cheat Sheet

Neural Network Cheat Sheet Ultimate Guide to Leveraging NLP & Machine Learning for your Chatbot
Code Snippets and Github
Machine Learning Overview

Machine Learning Cheat Sheet
Machine Learning: Scikit-learn algorithm This machine learning cheat sheet will help you find the right estimator for the job which is the most difficult part. The flowchart will help you check the documentation and rough guide of …

This Is Exactly How You Should Train Yourself To Be Smarter [Infographic]

Design inspired by the Cognitive Bias Codex
View the high resolution version of the infographic by clicking here. Out of all the interventions we can do to make smarter decisions in our life and career, mastering the most useful and universal mental models is arguably the most important. Over the last few months, I’ve written about how many of the most successful self-made billionaire entrepreneurs like Ray Dalio, Elon Musk, and Charlie Munger swear by mental models… “Developing the habit of mastering the multiple models which underlie reality is the best thing you can do. “ — Charlie Munger “Those who understand more of them and understand them well [principles / mental models] know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well. “ — Ray Dalio “It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leav…