Why (and How) to Say “No” to Business

If you are in the business of selling travel, it may seem counter intuitive to be told that you need to say “no” to business. Not ALL business – but some business. Business that is not profitable, less than ideal, or outside of your expertise. I would like you to be honest with yourself. I know there have been times you ignored your gut and said yes to business even when you felt like it was a bad idea.

You said yes anyway. You said yes because you were coming from a scarcity mindset. In other words, you believe that there is a limited supply of clients and if you turn away this business, you will be turning away money and possibly putting the wrong message out there.

This may sound reasonable enough, but it’s completely wrong and distorted. My favorite philosophy I like to use at this moment with my clients is “When you let go of something of a lower nature, you make room for something of a higher nature.”

The truth is, when you say “no” to someone or something that’s not in alignment with who you want to attract to your business, you say “yes” to yourself. When you can stand in your power and say no, even when it’s not the popular response, you have finally given yourself and your business the gift of self-love, your confidence builds tremendously, and the universe will respond with more of the clients you desire.

This lesson can come up over and over again in your travel business. There are many moments you are tested on this front. For example, a young and likeable couple reach out to you for help with their budget honeymoon. Little did they know you recently made a commitment to yourself that you were no longer taking inquiries for travel that did not meet a certain list of criteria, like a minimum budget of $5,000.

Their inquiry doesn’t meet one single requirement on your new list, except that they are likeable. BUT, they were referred to you by a very important client…a client that books 3 or 4 high end cruises per year. You know in your heart, you should be saying “no” to this business, but you feel you should say yes, because you don’t want to disappoint your VIP client. Plus, you like them and you could use the business. Another thought comes to mind that you never know WHO they may know and what referrals might come out of it.

So, what’s the harm, right? WRONG! There is a major harm that is getting overlooked. That harm is YOU. My coach and mentor has said to me many times “How you do anything is how you do everything.” If you say “yes” to this client, you will be saying “no” to you and the commitment you made to your business. Where else in your life are you saying “no” to yourself?

Big changes start with small, seemingly insignificant steps. Saying “no” to this potential client is one of those seemingly small, insignificant steps that will produce great, positive dividends for the future of your business. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some negative ramifications of saying “yes” to this new inquiry:

  • If you say “yes,” you will be too busy to take the phone call that leads to a much better, much bigger booking, (which goes to another travel advisor before you have time to return the call).
  • If you say “yes,” you will get frustrated and resentful of all the time they waste with you and then take your frustration out on your spouse.
  • If you say “yes,” you will be so pre-occupied with this client that seems to be taking all your time, that you end up being on the computer in your home office when your 1-year old takes his first steps.

A Script for You!

Wondering HOW to say “no”? Here’s a great script you can use (tweak it however you like):

“Thank you so much for coming to me. I really appreciate your business. But, in order to service my clients best, I have to stick to what I know best. It doesn’t do my clients any good for me to work on business outside my expertise. Your inquiry falls outside my expertise, so I would like to refer you to a travel advisor (or resource if you think no other travel advisor would want the business either – you can refer to an online booking engine) that can better serve you. I wish you the best and please think of me when your travel plans include (insert your specialty here.)”


It’s time to establish criteria for the bookings you work on and say “no” to the rest. You will be amazed at what shows up after you do this a few times. Utterly amazed.

Use the script I provided. Tweak it if you need to.

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