Karan Morrow, owner of Where2Next? Travel, LLC, endorses consultant retainer model 

Karan Morrow, Where2Next? Travel, LLC
Photo: Photography by Kelley Raye

Karan Morrow, owner of Where2Next? Travel, LLC, has a favorite saying, “This is a great big world — get out and see some of it!” Morrow built her Atlanta, Georgia-based business to help African American clients discover that luxury travel is not out of reach or a dream that can’t be realized. She inspires travelers to see the world past social media moments, instead returning with both photographs and lifetime stories. Morrow shares insight into what has made her successful in building a loyal client base.   

Q. Your business model includes a non-refundable Consultant Retainer; how did you determine to use that model?   

A. I instituted the non-refundable Consultant Retainer business model after two things happened. First, I had worked exceptionally hard on a complicated, detailed custom itinerary that included pricing and presented it to a potential client — then never heard from that person again. Later I found out they booked it with someone else. Needless to say, I was upset and hurt. It hit me that I gave away all that investment of my time and expertise. I instituted the fee structure immediately after that.   

Second, while working with my current marketing coach, it was reiterated that as a travel professional, I should charge a fee for the work I do, without rebating, discounting or applying it toward travel. This is especially true since all my itineraries are tailored and not based on any set price point. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into what we all do as travel advisors, honing a travel plan until we develop what the client wants. There is no other profession that gives away their time and labor. That practice should stop, especially in the wake of what it now takes to travel.   

Where2Next? Travel, LLC flagship group on private yacht sail, Gulf Shores, Ala.
Photo: Where2Next? Travel, LLC

Q. Do clients embrace this practice?   

A. All my current clients do embrace the practice, some even asking what took me so long! Some potential clients do not, and that is perfectly fine. I determine this during the qualifying process helping a potential client understand what I bring to the table in the travel planning process. I don’t want all the clients — I want the right clients — those who appreciate and value what I do as a travel professional.  

Q. Would you recommend this practice to advisors starting out?   

A. I absolutely recommend this practice to advisors starting out. I ask them to think of it this way: If you hire a financial planner to assist you with your monetary future, you compensate them for their time, research and putting that financial plan together. Think of yourself as the financial advisor for your clients’ travel spend — working to get them the best value for their hard-earned vacation dollars, no matter how much that spend is.  

Where2Next? Travel, LLC flagship group learning about weaving process at the Turker Ministry of Education Weaving School, Ephesus, Turkey
Photo: Where2Next? Travel, LLC

Q. How would you describe today’s group travelers?   

A. Today’s group travelers are internet savvy! They come to the table with lots of ideas and information. What they don’t always understand is what a travel advisor does or has access to. Many travelers think advisors only see the consumer sites on the internet and question why they should use a travel advisor. That’s when we take the time to teach them that consumer sites are not all we have access to; we bring value and expertise to the planning of a group travel experience. I remind clients that the internet is for looking — your travel advisor will take care of the booking and get you more than meets the eye.  

“Give Back” day, working with the children at the BasadiPele creche (nursery school), Kagiso, South Africa
Photo: Where2Next? Travel, LLC

Q. What is your best travel tip for your clients?   

A. Travel is a privilege, and the places we visit are someone else’s home. My best travel tips for my clients are: 1) Learn what makes your destination unique and truly enjoy that; 2) Absorb a little from the people and the culture of your destination; 3) Find one way to give back to the locals if you can; and 4) Be open to experiences — those experiences will be your lifetime stories from your travels. 

Karan Morrow
Owner & travel consultant
Where2Next? Travel, LLC