Spear Travel’s Kim Kent manages to make a booking in a heap of tears along with the tour operator

I am sure you will all agree that sometimes in our job it is difficult to control your emotions, whether it be laughter or tears.

I meet many new customers, but one lady who booked with me recently, whose surname is Carthill, really caught my attention.

She was delightful, and after chatting with her I knew we were going to get on famously. She was married with a teenage daughter and, from what I could gather, her husband – a businessman – was not particularly keen on holidays so it was always going to be a compromise. She wanted to show her daughter the world and they had the means to do so.

Winkle picker

We talked at length about a trip to the USA and eventually worked out an itinerary that all would be happy with.

After running it past her husband she called late the following day to book. “Great,” I said, “I just need your full names and dates of birth as they appear on your passport.”

“I was dying to laugh out loud but managed to hold it all back with just a small giggle and no comment.”

I started to write Mrs when she said: “Mine is Debbie Carthill-Winkle… when you marry a Winkle, darling, you have to hang on to your maiden name.”

Mrs Carthill-Winkle carried on by saying her husband’s name was William.

That was the point I could feel my tummy muscles tighten, and I started to quiver. I was dying to laugh out loud but managed to hold it all back with just a small giggle and no comment.

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After she left, I called the tour operator and a young girl picked up the phone. She was very helpful and we went through the details. Of course, when we got to the name she started to laugh, and it was so infectious that I started laughing as well. I tried to be professional and hold it back but there was no way that I could; the pair of us were trying to get this booking done in an absolute heap, with tears streaming down my face, and no doubt hers too. The more she laughed, the more I did. Thank goodness there was no one in the shop.

“The pair of us were trying to get this booking done in an absolute heap, with tears streaming down my face.”

At that point, a customer I knew well walked in and sat in front of me. He is a businessman who always has a joke to tell, but on this occasion his face was quite serious. I politely apologised for the wait while I was on the phone and said I wouldn’t be too long. I continued to spell out Mr William Winkle’s name over the phone and again the girl at the tour operator dissolved in a heap of tears, as she cried with laughter. I tried with all my might not to giggle, but my face gave it away to my regular customer. Finally, the booking was done, but I came off the phone having to wipe the tears from my face too.

I apologised to my customer again, asking how I could help. He must have been listening to me spelling out the name because, with a smile on his face, he explained: “Willie Winkle is a really good friend of mine!”

“I tried with all my might not to giggle, but my face gave it away to my regular customer.”

Thankfully for me, he saw the funny side of the name.

I was gone. I’m just glad his friend wasn’t Scottish – I don’t think I could have coped booking a holiday for Wee Willie Winkle.


Abu-Dhabi-SHUTTERSTOCK

Client connections

I was recently invited to dinner at a restaurant by some clients as a thank you for changing a booking. As I walked in I saw some old clients who have not booked with me since 2014. As we chatted, I realised they also knew the people I was with.

On the Monday I received a call asking if I could help with their holiday to Abu Dhabi in January. I found a great deal with JTA Travel: 14 nights in a five-star hotel, two rooms for the three of them for £5,000 – and they booked it.

I’m not sure whether they had forgotten about us or whether seeing me with their friends was a seal of approval.

Note to self: visit more local restaurants and pubs – you never know who you might bump into.