Travel insights from Rick Zimmerman, President & CEO, KHM Travel Group

Building a Business on Integrity

When it comes to strong relationships, whether personal or professional, one of the foundational elements is trust. Earning a reputation as a trusted travel professional takes time, and it also takes integrity.

At KHM Travel Group, we define integrity as speaking and acting from a position of honesty to honor confidentiality and build trust, thereby avoiding gossip and negative behavior. It’s a big word and one of our Core Values, but when you actually think about how integrity is built, it comes down to small, everyday interactions. Let’s breakdown three hypothetical but realistic scenarios that illustrate this point.

When you tell your client you’ll get back to them within two days, do you hold yourself to that?

Setting expectations for when you’ll respond to someone is making a promise. It may seem like a small promise, but you have to put yourself in the shoes of the person waiting. This client is excited about their upcoming vacation and hopefully wants to get it booked as much as you do.

Breaking that promise, even by a day, can cause a dip in that feeling of trust they’ve built with you. And a day is a plenty of time for them to go online and book it themselves. Circumstances sometimes arise that prevent you from getting back to them within the stated period, but that should be an exception, not the norm.

When a friend asks you if you can get them a better price on their hotel than they can find online, how do you respond?

The easy response would be, “absolutely!” If you’re still building your clientele or you’re going through a slow period, it’s tempting to want to say whatever you need to say in order to get the sale.

On top of asking yourself if this is the type of client you want, think about the long-term impact of guaranteeing you can find better rates. This friend will almost certainly visit an OTA after getting a quote from you to check rates. What if the rates are the same or even better? Chances are they’ll be questioning your integrity and willingness to be honest.

When you have a less-than-pleasant experience while traveling, do you immediately go on to social media and share it?

Posting on Facebook about the long hold times and disappointing customer service you received typically won’t help you resolve your issue. On top of that, others will see that you are willing to publicly air your grievances even though companies provide other options for direct feedback.

What if you need to book that supplier for your clients in the future? If they saw your post, they may wonder if you are making the right decision for them. You’ve turned your negative experience into a negative perception for others.

Integrity, almost by definition, isn’t built in one conversation or email, and it’s impossible to buy or fake. You earn it from your clients over the course of many conversations, emails, and decisions.

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