Coronavirus: Seven tips for trading through tough times

Bob Morrell of Reality Training suggests how to keep motivated through this difficult period

Reality Training have trained thousands of travel agents in recent years and with the challenges the industry faces, we have created seven core tips that we know will keep you busy and motivated through this difficult period.

The virus has changed so much, so quickly, that our ability to respond to it in a positive way is crucial. We must be honest with our customers, and it is incumbent upon us to keep up to date with the latest advice and be ready to react, for them.

This will pass. Just as the ash-cloud did, and the closure of major brands and airlines, and other shocks this industry has worked through.

This is the best industry to work for. You’re selling the most brilliant thing, which, has the ability to enhance someone’s life. It’s understandably, going to be difficult to retain that enthusiasm for a while.

Here are seven strategies and ideas that will help you work through this period;

  • Go back to Previous Customers.

How many of us have a database sitting there that we rarely look at? Now is the time to use that data. These customers once booked with you. So they will remember that and possibly you. We need to proactively contact these customers and remind them of 4 things (the 4Ws) who you are, where you are contacting them from, why you are contacting them (with an apology for it being so long!) and  the 4th and most important W – What’s in it for them? Your intro needs to be something like this;

‘Hi Mr Jones, this is Bob (W1) from Reality Travel, (W2)  I’m calling because 3 years ago you booked your holiday to Spain with us. I’m sorry it’s been a while, and the reason I’m calling today is we’ve got some great new holidays available (W3), and I think one of them (W4) may be ideal for you. Have you got a few minutes?’

Clearly, you’ll need to adapt the language for each call, but the principles work in the same way. The 4th W is key. You must have something specific you can recommend and even if it’s not right for them, you are being proactive.

  • Go back to Previous Leads.

How many of us have a database of proposals and quotes sitting there that we rarely look at? The customers you quoted last year ,who never booked with you, probably booked elsewhere. Going back to them calls for some honesty. ‘I’m sorry what I sent through wasn’t right last time – maybe if I can ask you a few more questions I’d have a better chance next time?’ This may not generate much immediate business – but it should set up a chunk of future business. If people ask for a second chance, which is what you’re doing, most customers will give you that chance.

Previous customers and leads all cost you something to generate, at the time you last spoke to them. By going back to them proactively you are giving yourself the chance to get something else back, for that investment.

  • Don’t Live in Your Inbox

Email isn’t everything. Travel is a relationship business and that is best created through conversation. We were once in a meeting with a senior person who said ‘Our Agents have told us our customers don’t like it when we phone them.’ I’m sorry to say that it is more likely to be ‘Our agents just don’t like phoning our customers.’ You cannot build a relationship through email alone. It’s possible, of course, but ultimately, slower. The phone is so much more effective and quicker.

  • Think about Your Language

The words ‘expensive’ and ‘cheap’ mean different things to different people. To some people expensive means ‘high priced’. To others it means ‘not worth the money’. To some people cheap means ‘low cost’. To others it means ‘crap’.

  • Irritators

Whilst on the subject of language there are 10 things we should stop saying on the phone because they irritate customers

‘What’s your budget?
‘I’ll check with my manager.’
Disloyal Bonding.
‘To be honest’
‘How are you today?’
Long unexplained silences
Overuse of the customer’s name

  • No Agenda – No Meeting

A great deal of time is wasted internally because of long, meandering meetings. Install this rule and you will have fewer, shorter, more effective meetings. Ask to see the agenda in advance so you can think about your perspective on the different points.

  • No Decision – No End of Meeting

Why have meetings and then have another one? In tough times we need and demand decisions, so stay in the meeting until you reach a decision – this will result in fewer but more decisive meetings.

Reality Training have several free resources you can use:

  1. Realitytrainingtv and Realitytrainingfilms our two You Tube Channels.
  2. Free Friday Coaching Slots – book your slot with and we will help you with advice and an empathetic ear.
  3. Read the Reality Blog at
  4. Plus for a very low amount you can buy our books; The Perfect Storm – 30 Ways to Drive Your Business, The Brexit Manager – (Managing Through Unchartered Waters), and Selling The Sun – The Reality of Omni-Travel – all available on Kindle.

Bob Morrell and Jeremy Blake have been speakers at many travel conferences over the years, for travel associations and leading travel brands. Together with our trainers, we act out scenes and conversations so your people can see the difference small changes in language and tone can deliver. When all this madness is over we’d love to speak at your next conference and use our double act, and our actors, to inspire you all, once again.

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