As an agent, I frequently hear the phrase “I want the cheapest” from customers. Over the years I have learned that what most people mean when they say this isn’t that they want the cheapest, they want the best value. Sometimes a customer will insist that price is the only factor driving their decision as to what to purchase. Sometimes customers will listen to their agent’s advice and sometimes they will choose to ignore it at their own peril. For some people the best way to learn something is to experience it while others will choose to learn from other’s experience.
Some years ago I had a client who asked me to arrange a trip for her. It was a combination work and vacation trip the week before Christmas. She was flying from Salt Lake City to Dallas, where she was attending some meetings, then on to Buffalo where she was do a presentation. After that she wanted to fly to Boston for the weekend to visit relatives and then to return to Salt Lake City. I put together an itinerary that allowed her to do all this and brought her back on the nonstop flight from Boston. After I presented this to her she told me that she had found it for $10.00 less online. I admitted to her that I could do it for $10.00 less however it would require her to fly from Boston to Buffalo, then to Dallas and then to Salt Lake City and in my opinion that wasn’t a good deal. She opted to go for the lower fare, so I went ahead and did what she asked. The morning when she was to return from Boston, there was a snowstorm, which caused her to misconnect in Buffalo. She ended up overnighting there because that was when the next available seat was. Then she arrived in Dallas a day late and had to standby to get home to Salt Lake City. I spoke with her following the holidays and I asked her how the trip went. She told me that was the most expensive $10.00 savings she had ever experienced.
Not everyone would make the same decision that she did and certainly not most experienced travelers and yet experienced travelers still make some decisions about travel because they are unaware that they are missing an option or two. An example of this is a friend of mine who insists that he can always get a better deal online than any agent can get him. I admit that sometimes he does find a terrific deal. Of course, he spends hours upon hours to find them and frequently they are significantly different from his initial request so he is no longer comparing apples to apples. However there are times when he really misses the boat because he doesn’t want to pay my fee. As an example, he was traveling from Salt Lake City to Brisbane Australia and he only wanted to have one connection in each direction. He found a “deal” on one of the major online booking tools for $2300.00, when he called me and asked me if I could beat it, I was able to get him the exact same flights for $1363.99 simply because I knew how to break the fare in order to get a much lower price. If he hadn’t called me, he would have paid $926.01 too much in airfare and he would have save $30.00 in the difference between the fees. I would gladly spend $30.00 to save over $900.00.
I admit that I’ve never cared for the word cheapest as it seems to carry a very negative connotation for me. It calls up the image of shoddy and tacky things that while being very low priced, also deliver a very low value for the money spent. One of the advantages of utilizing an agent is that the agent brings additional value to the trip, be it in finding creative ways to save money or in pointing out that for a few dollars more you may be able to purchase a fully refundable ticket or get a ticket that allows you to get a seat assignment or that you can upgrade your car or hotel. Generally most people prefer to get the greatest value for the least amount of money and in something like travel it is easy to lose sight of the value being offered for a couple of dollars difference in service fees or pricing.
A full service agency, like Christopherson Travel, offers you a great deal in terms of additional values that you may not get booking your travel on your own. When you book your travel through us you get the expertise that comes from having agents with an average of 22 years in the industry, you get cutting edge technology like AirPortal, Airtinerary, Airbank, you get access to Christopherson Travel exclusive rates at hotels, with car rental agencies and on some airlines, you get visa and passport information and access to a 24 hour emergency support team. All this for a few dollars more than what you would pay for doing it yourself. You can see a demonstration of our technology at www.Christophersontravel.com.