Kim Kent, branch manager of Spear Travels in Wolverhampton shares a lesson learnt the hard way

New customers walk into our shop every single day and one of the challenges that we face is that we never know at first if they actually want to book something or just pick our brains for inspiration. We do what we can to help, no matter what, and keep fingers crossed we get something back for all the hard work we put in.

I recently served a lovely couple looking to travel on a flight-only trip to New Zealand to see their daughter. They were delightful, and we looked at all the best options for them – ruling out too many stops and waiting times, as they were senior clients.

Eventually, we settled on a flight which they seemed happy with. They did comment at the time that it was a lot cheaper than they had been quoted elsewhere, but I assured them the cost was correct and they booked it. We posted the tickets to their home, as they don’t live very close to the shop. And they sent me a lovely card to thank me for the service and for finding them the flights. I also helped them apply for a tourist visa, a regulation that was brought in recently.

Words of praise

Soon after, I went away on my own holiday, and thought no more about the couple. I knew the girls in the office would pick up on anything required in my absence. It was while I was on holiday that Thomas Cook went into liquidation. I was so sad to hear of its demise and felt bad that I wasn’t in the office to help the girls sort out all our customers, but there was nothing I could do.

So you can imagine my surprise when on my return I saw this email from the son of my New Zealand-bound couple. It read: “I just wanted to say thank you to the team at your Tettenhall office in Wolverhampton. My (elderly) parents travel every November to visit my sister in New Zealand. For the last nine years they’ve used the same travel company to book flights. This year, they popped into your branch in Tettenhall while visiting me for the weekend and found that the flights were almost half the cost. As a result they booked them there and then and saved around £1,200.”

And the name of the company they’d used for the previous nine years? Thomas Cook.

Nice to be appreciated

The email continued: “Had you not provided such a good service and been happy to see if you could better their normal flight plan (Heathrow to Auckland via Singapore) and cost, and not found such great flights for them, they would have booked with Thomas Cook and would have lost £2,800 and wouldn’t have been able to visit my sister this year. This is massively important as, at 73 and 71, they have a limited number of years left to visit. So thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever the person or people were who found them the better deal, it’s very much appreciated