Creating memories of a lifetime doesn’t have to be as challenging as it sounds. Sometimes it’s as elementary as thinking like your client. While booking air and hotel packages are a given, many travel agents are leaving money on the table by letting their customers book their event tickets directly.
Sites like Ticketmaster and Stub Hub are known to have large markups, shining a light on new suppliers who are bringing game-changing pricing — and making events easier for agents to sell.
There are tens of thousands of commissionable bucket-list events that drive travel across the nation and beyond, and travel agents who define themselves as full-service providers need to make sure they are including them in their sales pitches. From Wimbledon and the FIFA World Cup, to the Rolling Stones in concert and the hottest seats to Broadway’s “Hamilton,” offering clients a connection to the most-sought after experiences can be the cherry on the ice cream sundae.
Ask the “sports, music, theater” question
Whether new clients or repeat, planned trips or trips created around an event, travel agents can no longer forfeit asking the “sports, music, theater” question – leading to the moment when a hobby or an interest suddenly translates into a sale.
Let’s face it: Being an event planner and making the travel purchase a one-stop-shop is a win-win for travel agents and clients alike. In addition to opening up an avenue where agents can gain intel on their clients’ likes and dislikes, it also can be the link to a plethora of referrals to friends and family members with similar interests – think group trips and multi-generational travel for reunions or special-interest vacations.
Entertainment is organic to the overall travel experience, and qualifying the client is the first step. For example, there is a lot to love about Kentucky, but if the client is headed to the Bluegrass State the first week of May, odds are there are horses involved. Consider asking them if they have their tickets for the Derby yet.
Dawn Snyder, CTC, a luxury travel advisor with World Travel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an agency with $10 million in annual sales, says offering this type of service isn’t an option anymore – it’s a requirement. “It’s something that we need to do to be a full-service agency. People are willing to pay extra for it, especially when you’re dealing with more upscale clients.”
The definition of customer service has evolved significantly over the past several decades and no one would know that better than Snyder, who has been a frontline agent for 36 years. Having seen her share of commissions come and go, she along with the 11 other agents that work with her, are turning towards commissionable products like entertainment tickets to fulfill every aspect of their client’s itinerary needs – big or small. “My business is built mostly by repeat customers and referrals because I provide them with the proper service,” said Snyder.
Commissions and service fees – one, the other, or both?
Paula Killion, DS, CTC, owner of The Travel Center, a Tzell agency in Hanover, Massachusetts, is another agent reaping the rewards of commissionable event sales. This summer she booked just over $21,000 in tickets to the U.S. Open for her clients, and walked away with a $1,600 commission.
For Killion, the extra bonus of working with suppliers who offer commission means not having to hike up her service fees any higher than they currently are. “How do you charge an extra service fee for helping them when they are buying $30,000 worth of tickets? In the past we had to break it to them, but this way we are making a decent commission on the ticket sale and it takes that sting out of telling the client that you need to charge them a fee.”
That being said, when products are commissionable, having the freedom to mark up the entertainment portion of a client’s travel itinerary is a welcome notion and one that over the years has finally come to be expected by clients who value service.
At the end of the day, Killion appreciates suppliers who pay commission on ancillary products so she can keep her bundled package service fees reasonable. From transportation and hotel stays to restaurant reservations and theater tickets, she wants her clients to rely on her for absolutely all their travel needs.
Making a commission on those components is a huge motivator. “We want our clients to know they can make one phone call and they don’t have to worry about anything. This way it’s one complete experience for them,” said Killion.
From the sponsor:
Events 365 offers travel agents purchasing access to over 80,000 exciting live events around the world including sports, concerts, theater and special events. With over $2 billion worth of inventory running through an easy-to-access, internet-based booking platform, it is hard to not take the client’s vacation to the next level. Agents also now have the ability to earn commissions when their clients purchase directly by sending a dedicated link to them through the Events 365 booking portal. Events 365 users also have a dedicated sales support team that will guide them through the registration and booking processes. Over 2,400 agents have currently registered to use the Events 365 platform since it went live to the agency community in June 2016.