Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Oct 23, 2017

Why you should charge service fees

Mike Dunbar

Quesnel, BC, travel agent Bernadette Parrott has a way with words. And she demonstrated as much at the recent CoNexion annual conference during a break-out session on the subject of service fees.
In a scripted presentation, Parrott, who owns Quesnel Escapes Travel Services, provided session attendees with an eloquent defence of fees against any client pushback.
Responding to an imaginary request for a cruise or all-inclusive vacation to Mexico for a family of four, Parrott’s scripted reply went:
“I’m so happy you came to me so I can offer you suggestions for both those options. I do charge a professional fee. For the cruise that would be $84 per person, covering the voyage confirmation, adding on any air that may be necessary, pre-ordering excursions, adding your passport information, credit card information, baggage tags and ticket package for each person. I’m even able to register you with the government as travelling if you wish. For the all-inclusive holiday, the fee is $52.50 per person, which includes the holiday confirmation, any flights and the full ticket package.”
In response to fee price pushback from the foursome, along with a book-it-alone threat from the client, she advised stating:
“You could, absolutely, but as a professional travel consultant I have direct access to sites designed to search for your perfect escape. I’ll do the research on both options for you and get back to you with full pricing that will include the entire cost of the holiday, insurance and my fee. I think you’ll find I may even be able to save you money as I’ll also be able to see all the deals pertaining to the trip. Also, should anything change before your holiday or difficulties arising during, I’ll be there for you. If you choose to book it through the Internet, you are on your own. Should anything go wrong I won’t be able to help you out at all.”
Should the client balk at the cost and ask if the kids could travel fee-free she recommended stressing that the charge is per person because:
“In the travel world children over five are considered people. In the airline world it’s two-years-old and, unfortunately, I can’t do anything about that.”
In an ad-libbed aside, Parrott quipped, “If your butt’s in the seat, they charge for it so why shouldn’t I?”
As further justification for charging a service fee, she advised telling the prospective client:
“This is how I earn my living and I believe that, once we start working together, you will experience the value I will bring to your vacation planning. It really is my goal for you and your family to have the perfect holiday, to stay within your budget and to take away the stress and anxiety of planning and endless searching.”
Concluding her presentation, Parrott told fellow delegates that 23% of her salary is derived from service fees. She stated, “I advertise my rates everywhere, even on my web site, and I do bring up the subject early on in the consultation conversation.”
And she advised non-fee agents in the room, “It could be difficult to start charging service fees but our time and expertise is worth the money.”