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Your Stories: ‘Between February and May, I made 53 MSC bookings worth more than £207,000’

Following a two-year break during the pandemic, homeworker Lynne Walton returned to work and achieved record sales in her first four months back. She talks to Josie Klein.

Q. What is your background in travel?
A. I have been in the industry for more than 35 years, having started out as a Saturday girl for an independent agency in Middlesbrough called Ruffle’s Travel. When I left school, I stayed there and did a Youth Training Scheme. After that, I moved to Thomas Cook, which had just opened on the high street.

I worked my way up to branch manager, but when I had my daughter 23 years ago, I didn’t want the pressure of the high street anymore, so I became a homeworker, initially working at Instant Travel, then Future Travel, then Sani Resort. I joined the Personal Travel Consultants in Partnership with Blue Bay Travel in October 2021.

I have been in the industry for more than 35 years, having started out as a Saturday girl for an independent agency in Middlesbrough called Ruffle’s Travel

Q. Who are your customers?
A. Most of my clients are high-end, European families so I am predominantly booking four and five-star luxury resorts in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. Although that’s my specialism, I’m happy to book most holiday types.

I’ve still got clients from when I started homeworking 23 years ago, so I’m always happy to try to accommodate them no matter what type of holiday they are looking for. Customer loyalty is very important to me so I will always do my best to communicate with and support my clients, even when I’m on holiday myself.

I’ve still got clients from when I started homeworking 23 years ago, so I’m always happy to try to accommodate them no matter what type of holiday they are looking for

Q. How have recent airline disruptions influenced your clients’ booking habits?
A. A lot of customers are really wary about the disruption and are looking at ways of getting abroad without the risk of their flight being cancelled, which has prompted an increase in cruise queries. Most of the cruises I sell depart from Southampton, so there are no airport queues or fears of delays, giving clients confidence they will be able to go on holiday smoothly.

Incredibly, some customers are already booking winter cruises before they’ve even taken their summer cruise, which is really uncommon. It seems that when people are looking for their winter holiday, they are seeing the great value and security in cruises and snapping them up immediately, rather than waiting until they’ve taken their summer trip, which is a new trend I hadn’t seen before.

Customers are really wary about the disruption and are looking at ways of getting abroad without the risk of their flight being cancelled, which has prompted an increase in cruise queries

Q. What other booking trends are you seeing?
A. I’m predominantly seeing a lates market as everyone is desperate to get on holiday after being stuck at home during the pandemic. However, I am seeing an upturn in families making forward bookings as they grow increasingly worried about the cost-of-living crisis and want to book a 2023 holiday at today’s price instead of risking it going up. I’ve seen prices rise rapidly in recent weeks. For example, I can quote someone for a holiday on one day and the next day it has increased by hundreds of pounds.

It’s no surprise travellers want to lock in the price for their future holiday, as it can increase massively in the space of 24 hours. At the same time, I’m booking a number of more expensive holidays for people who want to tick off one of their bucket list destinations. I recently booked a £10,000 Maldives trip for one client, and another was keen to do a Memphis and Graceland holiday, so it’s a range. The cost-of-living crisis seems to have impacted people going on short-haul holidays, but a lot of people have saved up over the past two years and want to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I’m happy to book them on whatever they fancy.

The cost-of-living crisis seems to have impacted people going on short-haul holidays, but a lot of people have saved up over the past two years and want to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip

Q. How does it feel returning to work after a two‑year hiatus?
A. For personal reasons I took a two-year break starting in February 2020, which just so happened to coincide with the pandemic. My heart broke for all my friends in the industry as I could see how hard it was for them working through it, so it feels really good to be back. I missed the industry and I love being part of it. I’ll absolutely be sticking around from here on in – I’m not going anywhere.

I missed the industry and I love being part of it. I’ll absolutely be sticking around from here on in – I’m not going anywhere


Lynne Walton 2

What have been your recent top-sellers?

Cruise sales have been crazy in the past few months, especially MSC itineraries. I don’t normally sell many cruises, but I saw the great value MSC was offering so I started promoting it on social media. Between February and May, I made 53 MSC bookings, totalling more than £207,000, which is significantly more than I’ve ever booked in the sector. It makes me want to push more cruises in the future as there is clearly the demand, especially among first-time cruisers, who have accounted for 95% of my sales. The average trip price is £3,995, with most of them due to take place this summer, although I’ve got a lot of cruise customers booking for 2023.

Between February and May, I made 53 MSC bookings, totalling more than £207,000, which is significantly more than I’ve ever booked in the sector

The clients booking for next year are mainly families who already had their holiday sorted for this summer but are keen to lock in their future trips at the current price. Turkey holidays have also been extremely popular. I hone in on five-star hotels which I think are good value for families and push them to my clients, who are lapping them up. I’ve done an equal amount of Turkey bookings as cruise, making it a really successful few months.

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