Now is the perfect time for self-improvement, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley 

Prior to this ongoing crisis, were you like me and periodically felt guilty about turning down training opportunities?

As much as I believe in training, how often do I actually think ‘Oh, I have half an hour to spare so I’ll join one of the many webinars on offer’? Or how often do I go online and get my head into some training offered by one of the tour operators?

First of all, it seems more and more rare to have a spare half an hour and, let’s be honest, it’s easier not to bother – especially when you’re dealing with customers.

“Amy from Coral Expeditions presented an absolutely fabulous training session on the amazing new destination that this cruise line will travel to.”

However, when we do take part in training, we all find it invaluable and are left thinking ‘why oh why did I forget the importance of ongoing training’.

Back in February, pre-social distancing, we had a visit from Amy from Coral Expeditions. She presented an absolutely fabulous training session on the amazing new destination that this cruise line will travel to, places such as Micronesia, New Guinea, Tasmania, Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands.

Thinking back

About 25 years ago, I attended a training session by Coral Expeditions and I remember being blown away by the photography in the brochures. I recall the pictures included one of a Zodiac boat landing on a beach and Aborigines in full traditional dress greeting clients as they arrived.

That training has remained with me to this day and helped me know more about the Kimberley and cruising in the region, and just how unique the product is. So to hear from Amy how the company has expanded, and the many new and exclusive destinations they are travelling to, was so interesting.

“That training has remained with me to this day and helped me know more about the Kimberley and cruising in the region, and just how unique the product is.”

But it’s what we do with what we learn that matters. Do we share the knowledge with all our staff if they have not all been able to attend the training? Do we tell our customers about what is new and exciting?

I’m always very full of good intentions and try to share as much of the newly-gained information as I can. I like to include important content, such as cruising to new destinations and new ships, into our client newsletters, and on our website.

Getting personal

Something I find that has a great reaction, and often leads to bookings, is when I write a personal email to clients whom I think would like the information I have gained. I like to think this makes them feel special – that I’ve thought of them and that they are the first to hear about the new product.

“As we’re on lockdown, we should be encouraging all our staff to take on board all the fabulous training that is available to them.”

Sometimes, what we learn in a training session is very specific and is something we can include in a tailored mailing to an individual customer. Or, if we feel the information should be shared with many, then I like to do an e-blast.

Right now, as we’re on lockdown, we should be encouraging all our staff to take on board all the fabulous training that is available to them. Knowledge is a gift, and the time to brush up on it is right now.


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It doesn’t take much to ask ‘are you okay?’

Although the shop is closed, we are very much keeping in touch with our more vulnerable clients. We have each taken a selection of clients, and are ringing them once a week to check they’re OK and ensure they have all the shopping
and prescriptions they need. Some just want a chat, as they are on their own.

Right now, more than ever, we need to spend a little time taking care of our lovely clients. One of our clients thanked us greatly, and said: “Oh, you have brightened my day. It’s so kind of you just to call, thank you.”