Customer:  “But, ___ is selling the hotel for cheaper”.

I have to write some variation of this same email probably a couple times a month.  I thought it might be helpful to post it as a travel blog post.

In this scenario, a customer asked me to research hotels in the 7th arrondissement of Paris for May of next year.  I pulled together three options and provided visually-rich trip quotes with room rates and description, hotel descriptions, AAA diamond status, Trip Advisor reviewer status, maps and cancellation information.

The customer comes back a day later and says “Thanks, that was very helpful. We’re narrowing in on one of your suggestions, but it’s cheaper on ______”. (It varies, but usually Expedia).  Here’s how I normally respond:

Thanks for your note.  I think the Bourgogne Montana would be a great choice.

AAA is not necessarily known for being the lowest-price insurer, but we are known for providing an exemplary level of customer service and care.  Our travel operations are similar.  We provide individual, hands-on travel consultation and support throughout the whole travel process from the trip planning to the travel itself, but — we’re rarely as cheap as travel consolidators like Expedia.

I would caution that you often get what you pay for with Expedia.  If you walk into a travel supplier (hotel/car rental) with an Expedia voucher, the provider knows you paid the lowest possible rate for that room.  Guess what car or room they’re going to give you? And, if/when you have issues, they are not necessarily known for their customer service and ability to resolve things. I would encourage you to study reviews (good and bad) for Expedia. (I typically then give the customer a link and a snapshot to that day’s results when you search for “Expedia customer service”.  And, then I continue…)

AAA NCNU, on the other hand, is a non-profit. We’re a membership organization and any money we make from our travel business goes back into providing member benefit services (free maps, emergency road service, etc.) to our customers in Northern California, Nevada & Utah.  AAA is the largest leisure travel organization in North America and our collective purchasing power enables us to negotiate very good travel rates and added trip benefits for our customers.

I’m a trained and certified travel professional in your neighborhood, not a website or a call-center CSR somewhere.  I’m passionate about travel and taking care of my clients.     I was up at Midnight last night advising a couple about Amtrak delays and checking to make sure they don’t miss their connection in Chicago.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll check-in an elderly couple (who don’t have either email or cellphones)for their flights to Cedar Rapids.  That’s the level of service you get when you work with me.

I’d like the opportunity to book your hotel for you.  And, I’m also happy to assist with booking activities and tours while you’re in Paris if you have any interest. I’m hopeful that you’ll find real value on the additional dollars you’ll spend with AAA.

Thanks, Maureen

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