A Travel Agent’s Guide to Answering Difficult Budget Questions

Written by: Sydney M Crago on May 30, 2019

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Travel agents work closely with clients to plan and book their vacations. They use their passion for travel and their expert knowledge to craft the best itineraries possible. Of course, there are times when clients come to their agent with budget questions. Here are a few ways travel agents can address these questions and overcome objections.

Competing with Online Travel Agencies

Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for?” Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are often a good example of this and they are often the source of travelers’ difficult budget questions.

Is it an apples-to-apples comparison?

If you provide a client with a quote, and in response, they check in the price of a vacation using an OTA. They may find a less expensive option, but are the two trips really the same? Chances are, they aren’t.

Your quote probably includes important components, like airport transfers, a balcony room, or excursions. The OTA option might not. Ask your client if you can compare the two options. Explain to them where the differences are and how those differences could affect the price and their experience.

Share how they can support your business.

Many travelers don’t understand how travel agents are paid. Share with your clients that, as a travel agent, you earn a commission on the bookings your clients make. Let them know that you only get paid if they book with you. Some clients will see the value in supporting a local or small business owner and will choose to book with you because of this.

Your knowledge adds to the value.

Explain to your clients why you chose the accommodations you did. Is the resort adults-only like they asked? Is that hotel in walking distance to the sites they most want to see? How have you used your knowledge and expertise to plan their travel?

Also, share how you can support them during and after travel. For example, if their flight is canceled, they can call you. Point out that if they book with an OTA, you won’t be able to help them with issues, not because you don’t want to, but because you are not on the record as their travel agent, so airlines or hotels won’t be able to talk to you about their trip.

How can I deal with a client that is price-shopping?

Always get a budget from your clients and find out exactly what this number means for them. Is it how much they want to spend on the travel costs and accommodations, or do they hope that number will cover everything, including food and excursions? Is this number the absolute maximum for their trip or do they have some flexibility?

If your clients keep asking for a lower and lower price, ask them why. Did their budget change? Are they comparing your quote to an OTA or another agent? Offer to compare the items on your quote with the others they have received.

If they don’t seem to have a reason and you offered a quote within their budget, stick by your work. By saying something like, “I assure you I have done my research and offered you the itinerary that I think best fits your travel desires in the budget you mentioned. I am confident you’ll love this vacation option, but I can not hold it past _________ without a deposit.”

Remember, the back and forth of a price-shopping client may take too much time and energy away from your other clients. You can either stick by the quote you have already given, or you can “release” the client. Say, “I would love to book your trip, but if you are not satisfied with your quote or feel that it is an unfair price, you may want to book through another avenue.” Ultimately, you may lose this sale, but you will have time to take on another client and build a relationship with someone who truly values your work.

What should I say if my client’s budget is unrealistic?

Imagine a family of five wants to go to Europe together for a month and spend only $1000…total. Travel agents aren’t miracle workers. As much as they love helping others experience the world, they also have to be honest with clients.

Tell your client that their budget doesn’t allow for you to plan the vacation that they are looking for, but that you can offer options that stick to their budget and take into consideration some of their desires. This is a good time to ask them about their priorities — which of these desires is most important to them?

Alternately, consider letting your client know that you would be willing to provide them a quote for their trip with all their inclusions, but that it will be over their budget. Ask them if they would still be interested in seeing a quote or talking about the cost of the trip they asked about. Maybe they have alternate destination in mind that may be closer to their budget.


KHM Travel Group is a leading host agency dedicated to supporting our network of over 4,000 independent travel agents across the United States. To learn more about becoming a travel agent with KHM Travel Group, fill out the form to the right or give us a call at 1-888-611-1220.