It’s the last couple of weeks before the end of the year and what better way to end the year than a satire based on situations of handling some very demanding travellers. These are findings from experiences of handling a breed of travellers who face incurable syndromes and expect the travel consultant to be find solutions to any and every problem. I heard someone saying that the job of a Travel Consultant is fun as they travel across the globe. True, to a great extent but you need special skills to be a successful travel consultant especially if you encounter the KAR-WA-LOS or desktop travellers. After reading this maybe the airlines or visa issuing authorities will have some sympathies on the challenges faced by the travel consultants which adds to the stress of waitlist and cancelled flights and delays in visas . Read on and enjoy this piece of wicked humour
At times when you work as a Travel Consultant, especially when you plan customized holidays, you come across a breed of travellers known as KAR-WA-LOS which in Mumbai Hindi would mean , make others work for nothing and who are basically “Desktop travellers”. They want to circumnavigate the world with a travel agent and eventually don’t have a penny in their pockets to spend. The great challenge is how to handle such dangerous breed of KAR-WA-LOS without losing your cool.
Generally the KAR-WA-LOS would create a lot of hype for impact in their first meeting – sister in New York, cousins in Australia and that could possibly be your first signal to be wary of such DTRs (desk top travellers). Then they would further hype it up by adding that they run successful family businesses or are Managers in MNCs and generally don’t have a clue between balancing family life and work and may even struggle to understand the concept of a holiday. They feel holiday planning is surfing the net, picking up the cheapest deals and their mind randomly goes helter skelter. Their vicious behaviour can be damaging and demoralizing for your front line staff who would put all efforts to plan the ideal holiday. So it is important to first identify the KAR-WA-LOS :
1. They change 3 or more destinations – that too in less than a span of a couple of meetings or in the first meeting itself. That is the first signal that you have to be prepared to face the KAR-WA-LOS syndrome.
2. They suffer from serious bouts of dyscalculia – a disability in identifying numbers whether it is number of days of travel, number of people travelling, number of destinations to include or exclude and cannot comprehend basic arithmetics and calculations. To resolve this you need to pen down every piece of communication so that you can send them a summarized note highlighting the degree of indecisiveness in planning.
3. They throw logic out of the window – On one hand they may claim that they do not wish to walk and will still insist on going to destinations where a lot of walking is necessary. Hence, it is important to record every request of theirs in writing or else face the consequence if they do travel (which in most cases is unlikely as they belong to a breed of time wasters)
4. They pretend to be busy – An excuse to call you at odd hours pretending to be overworked during the week. They are primarily nuisance creators as they enjoy and thrive in disturbing you at odd hours and even on weekends. Never share your mobile number or you are inviting disaster. They will expect you to be near the mobile whenever they call and behave in an eccentric manner if you do not pick up the phone within 3 or 4 rings.
5. They experience Hypervision – Hypervision is a syndrome of imagining objects or thoughts that don’t exist. They may have asked you to do something and after confirming, they will feign ignorance. This is done so that they extract maximum information at no cost. Always note down the minutest detail and mail them a copy so that you can refer back.
6. They have ADHD – or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and they forget things easily, get distracted easily by others opinions and are extremely indecisive and get impatient and frustrated very easily. Limit your options that you offer them or else instead of you planning their holiday you would need to take one.
7. They think that your agency functions to service them exclusively – Everything should have been done yesterday although they approach you at the last moment and will expect responses in minutes. And even if you manage to get results speedily, they will add insult to injury by changing the destination as if they are at a grocery and will frequently change destinations not only adding to your frustration but also to the frustration of your partners, hence creating a global phenomena.
8. They flatter to deceive – To get freebies even without booking with you and if your company is in the business of organizing events or offering merchandising, see that they get nowhere near it. They may even play the bluff that they have recommended several clients, when in reality they haven’t recommended any.
9. They are non-committal – Even if you did manage your best of interpersonal skills in shortlisting a destination, they will find flimsy excuses so that they don’t pay up as they really don’t have any intention of travelling but want to feel good of being the desk top traveller.
10. They pretend to be globe trotters but their geography is abysmal – They are so confused that they may move several places of interest in one window or area and if they had their way they would want to see all the 7 wonders of the world in one go that too in one continent or even one country.
What are the steps to handle the KAR-WA-LOS?
1. As their objective is to drive you to insanity due to their indecisive behavior, record every communication (upto a maximum of 5) and send them an invoice to pay up a trip planning fee as an advance to be adjusted towards their booking. If they chicken out, you know you can focus your energy on people who are genuine and not desktop travellers.
2. If they meet 5 or more of the above mentioned syndromes, best is to stay away from them and keep on reminding them to pay up a fee for planning their holiday and you are guaranteed to be free from desktop travellers.
3. Potential travellers who read this piece can probably identify which of their friends are desktop travellers and encourage them to be clear, specific and not just plan or think of travelling but actually inspire them to travel identifying their constraints – be it time or resources.
4. A piece of advice for my fellow travel consultants. Instead of losing your cool when you come across such travellers, channelize your energy in giving exceptional service to the clients who indeed want to travel and respect your knowledge and expertise.