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Agent Diary: ‘Hats off to the suppliers that let us change bookings ourselves’

Waiting for suppliers to answer the phone is frustrating but we can resolve some problems ourselves, says The Travel Snob’s David Walker, a Not Just Travel homeworker.

There has been much talk this week about suppliers allowing agents to make small changes online without the need to call them up.

Many of my bookings this month have been made online, and I must take my hat off to those suppliers which enable us to change elements of a booking ourselves without their input, as this makes life easier and saves so much time.

I must take my hat off to those suppliers which enable us to change elements of a booking ourselves without their input

But how many of us call a supplier to check something or make a change when we could in fact go down another route and do it without calling? How many of us jump on the phone when we have a query, when we could just solve it ourselves?

Make your own changes

I was chatting to another agent the other day who had spent two hours on hold to a supplier to check a transfer voucher as it had the incorrect number of passengers on it. I told her that as it was a HolidayTaxis voucher, all she needed to do was enter the confirmation number on the HolidayTaxis website. She did that and – hey presto! – she was able to change it to show the correct number of passengers.

A new voucher was then sent to the client and the agent didn’t need to call the supplier.

If I have a flight-related query, I always make a note of the passenger name record (PNR) on the booking and check with the airline direct.

Upgrades and date changes can often be done direct on the airline’s website. And it’s the same for transfers, which can usually be taken care of through the transfer company direct.

It’s frustrating when you do need to speak to a supplier and you get through to someone who’s new with no experience, often having to pick up where others left off

Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s certainly frustrating when you do need to speak to a supplier and you get through to someone who’s new to the job with no experience, often having to pick up where others left off and with files that aren’t complete or are incorrect – or worse – don’t even exist.

The other day, I spoke to a supplier after encountering an issue on their website, when one of the accommodation elements had failed. I had to call up to get it sorted, but it was 5.25pm. When I asked if I could call back once I had taken the customer’s payment, as I couldn’t put the customer on hold, I was told: “Sorry, I finish in five minutes so you will have to try again in the morning.”

Needless to say, that supplier lost that £17,000 booking, but one supplier’s loss is another more flexible supplier’s gain.

Choose wisely

This is why it’s so important that we all choose wisely when it comes to suppliers. I’ve said in a previous article that it’s just as important to build a close relationship with our suppliers as it is with our customers.

I’m sure we all have different issues with suppliers, and there are no doubt some I have a gripe with whom others have a healthy relationship with, and vice versa.

We’re all giving new bookings to those suppliers we know we can get hold of quicker, or solving booking issues ourselves as much as we can

But we must be patient in the knowledge things can and will only get better. We’re all (hopefully) giving new bookings to those suppliers we know we can get hold of quicker, or solving booking issues ourselves as much as we can.

We just need to crack on, grin and bear it and pray it will all get back to a new normal sharpish.


SHUTTERSTOCK pound signs money

I’m breaking my sales records

If how we’re operating now is ‘back to normal’, then strike a light and get me out of here!

That said, is it even possible to compare the previous ‘normal’ to what we have now? Personally, I have never had as many departures as I have had in the last two months, and I seem to be breaking all my sales records. At the time of writing, May is on track to be my biggest-ever month. It’s fair to say I’m pretty busy in my basement office right now. My average booking value is way up too and is the highest it has ever been by far. It’s been helped by two cruise bookings each worth more than £100k – one of them a single passenger…

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