*Names and locations changed for anonymity*
Tale of the Lady Who Wants Us to Fix Something We Can’t Fix
Received a call from a client staying at hotel we booked for her. We’ll call her Sheryl.
Sheryl: I need to speak to your colleague Elizabeth Whatsoherface. She booked my hotel and this place is a dump. I’m staying at the 7 Reasons Resort and it sucks. Everything is worn down and the water looks gross.
Me: Elizabeth Whatsoherface is on a call right now but I can message her to call you back.
Sheryl: Well I need help NOW. This hotel is supposed to be nice but it’s terrible.
Me: I’m sorry to hear that. Have you reached out to the hotel management?
Sheryl: Yes but they’re not doing anything about it! That’s why I’m calling you to help!
Me: (Finding it hard to believe the hotel wasn’t doing anything about it) Okay, would you like me to reach out to management to get your reservation cancelled without penalty due to the issues you’ve brought up to us?
Sheryl: No, I need the reservation
Me: Well what would you like me to do?
Sheryl: I don’t know!
Sheryl didn’t want me to find alternative accommodations but wanted us to do something about the hotel even though she’s actually there and management should be handling her concerns.
Tale of the Choosing Beggar Lady
We’ll call her Tara. Tara starts off with a simple request: Flights for her daughter. But of course, it couldn’t remain a simple request.
Tara: I need to get a roundtrip ticket for my daughter to Malawi. She’s doing charity work there. I prefer it to be $1800 or less, absolute maximum is $2000.
Me: (Already knowing she’s about to be very disappointed) I’ll see what I can find.
Tara: Oh and the return flight cannot be earlier than 4 PM. The stops should be minimal and I don’t want her staying more than 3 hours in the airport.
The majority of the return flights were before 4 PM. And this trip required at least four different flights with at least one layover over 3 hours due to limited flight availability. After some deliberation, we come up with some flights hovering just above $2000.
Tara: Well, this price is okay but I want something better. Can you just find some cheaper flights for me and email them to me when you’re done?
We had already spent an hour looking up flight options and she turned down several I proposed because of price. Because we operate as a call center, we just don’t have the time dedicated to doing research for one client when we have to assist clients as they call in. She was firm about how much money she wanted to spend and based on this woman’s profile, she has money to spend.
Me: As our travel agency takes incoming calls, I would need to do research when I’m not assisting other clients. It could take several hours for me to email you and I can’t guarantee I’ll find the flights you need at the cost you want.
Tara: A few hours? You can’t get me something sooner than that?
Me: …Being that we service incoming calls, I’ll be assisting other clients throughout the day. But I will reach out to you when I can.
I end up passing the buck to a travel specialist more familiar with that part of the world. I don’t have an issue with people needing help with complicated itineraries but they need to understand it’s going to take time to put together and it will cost money. Don’t go to a general travel agent in a call center when it’s clear you need a dedicated travel planner.