Travel. It’s a fascinating industry which is full of experts, and I’m sure you’re already dealing with at least one of them. But the beauty of experts is that you can always find another expert who holds a completely opposite opinion. So who is right? Is your expert really the fountain of knowledge that you would wish them to be?
Part of the problem, and the biggest challenge, is that we work in an area that is ever changing. There have been times in recent years where destinations such as Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Tunisia have all been deemed to be avoided at all costs; not by us, I would like to add! But many “experts” will have been advising their clients to choose alternative destinations for security reasons. But is this good advice? We often laugh at some of the expert opinions that we’ve heard being bandied around, and two excellent examples spring to mind:
An industry trip to Brussels was diverted to Bruges, due to a security situation in Brussels. Several people simply dropped out as a knee-jerk reaction, with one particular company stating that they would not be sending their staff “to Europe”. Yes, that’s right, Europe… the continent that they are actually based in.
The suggestion of including Beirut in a client proposal was met with the outburst “There’s a war there!”. In fact there had been a war there… most recently for about a month, in 2006.
I cite these examples not to mock, or to claim superior knowledge, but to give an example of how self-proclaimed experts will give an opinion that others may deem as true, regardless of how badly researched or ill-thought out that opinion may be. But of course there is another side to this coin – what happens if your advisor tries to suggest that somewhere is particularly good? That a destination will be perfect for you? That you really must take your group to a particular country, or city, or hotel? Even if they have no ulterior motive, you have to question whether your tastes are the same as theirs.
As a company we often include in our proposals a venue or destination that our clients have not considered. It’s our job to research what is available to them, and to come up with new ideas and possibilities. In nearly all cases we will have visited the destination, and will have compared other similar options; (I would like to say “always”, but we have recently recommended North Korea!). We make contact with representatives from the locations in question, and will give our clients a full appraisal of what we feel are the benefits of travelling there. What we don’t do is simply bamboozle them with pretty pictures, although “buy with the eye” is a trait that is often exploited. We will also seek venues that are the best option for our clients, NOT the best option for us. The industry is rife with stories of agents who refuse to consider venues whose commission rates are too low, or who are deemed difficult to deal with. Last but not least, we believe it’s the client who has the final decision, and we will not try to influence that decision in any way.
So, are you happy that your “expert” is knowledgeable, and has your best interests at heart? Have they done sufficient research before forming an opinion? Are they looking at what’s best for you? We would hope that you can answer “yes” to all of these questions. If not…
Can we offer you a second opinion?