Travel Agents would unanimously agree that the hairs stand up on the back of their necks when they hear the words: “I’ve seen it cheaper online, do you price beat?”

When OTAs slash their commissions to within an inch of losing money on already heavily discounted airfares (airfares right now are the cheapest they’ve ever been across all cabins) how can Sally from the Travel Agency next to Woolies beat it and make any profit for her company – or herself?

Large retails agencies have mostly been happy to break even or lose money on airfares on the front-end sale in the hope they’ll win more lucrative land bookings (hotel, tour, cruise, car hire…) or by aiming for gigantic national sales kickers set by airlines.

But with land products becoming increasingly competitive coupled with newcomers like industry interrupters like Airbnb – who has now entered the day trip/activities market – these benefits are most likely being watered down.

Along with airfare prices being 15-50 percent cheaper than five years ago, it’s making it harder for Travel Agents to cop losses on the front end, for little to no future benefit.

What do they then? It’s not that simple to say “no, we don’t price beat” because that customer will probably just walk out the door, sit down in the café next door and confirm their flights online with whichever site comes in the cheapest.

We don’t know the answer (yet) – but here are a few tactics to experiment with:


1. Sell your service

Couple with travel agent

Persuade customers to pay that little bit extra by showing them what a real life Travel Agent can do.

True stories seem to work best, so give them examples of when you helped save someone’s trip from a near disaster, a service only a real-life Travel Agent can offer.


2. Bundle a bargain


Customers seem to obsess over airfare costs more than any other part of their holiday, even though it’s rarely the most important or even the most costly portion.

If a customer wants to negotiate on price, that’s fine – but they’ll have to add more products to the booking first.

Give these types of customers two prices: airfare only and airfare with minimum land spend of $500.

In the end, it’ll be a win-win.


3. Tell them an online booking horror story


We’ve all heard a few, and many have been brought in last night to save the day, so don’t keep the horror stories to yourself.

Your customers will most likely want to avoid making the same mistakes.

READ: 10 classic Travel Agent quotes that will be remembered forever

READ: Is it really that easy being a Travel Agent

Do you have any tricks on how to overcome a price beat? Please share!