You have to be creative to succeed as an agent but I didn’t realise Instagram could generate so many new bookings, says says Carla Hutchings, Luxury Travel Associate at Swords Travel in Bournemouth
We’re all so busy at Swords right now – it’s gone bonkers. I’ve had a real busy few months, with lots of high-value bookings, which shows the luxury market is clearly out there.
I’m getting lots of customers booking big, multigenerational trips for special occasions in 2023, which is great for me because they’re bigger-value sales.
But alongside that I’m also getting people asking what they can get for this summer. I feel as if the mad summer rush has begun far earlier than usual because people are so desperate to get away.
I also think there will be a huge lates market this summer. I predict lots of people coming to us in July and August saying they want to get away in the next week and asking what’s available.
People, especially repeat bookers, expect prices to have stayed the same – but that just isn’t the case
While this is encouraging, Europe is not cheap this summer, and trying to explain the reasons why to customers can be tricky.
Some customers seem to have forgotten about Covid and that businesses need to recoup their losses. People, especially repeat bookers, expect prices to have stayed the same – but that just isn’t the case.
For customers who don’t mind long-haul flights, I’m suggesting alternative destinations. I am selling a lot of Bali, especially in July and August, as it’s an amazing destination.
I recently booked a family a two-week trip to Bali in amazing accommodation for less than what I could find them in Greece, which is crazy when you think about it.
Power of social media
I’ve recently collaborated with a friend I used to work with in field sales, and it’s showed me the true potential of social media.
She is an amazing blogger and recently went to Mauritius for two months. She spent her time blogging from hotels on the island.
I shared her blogs on my Instagram page and it’s generated so much new business. It’s been a successful partnership that we’re going to continue.
You have to be creative if you want to succeed as an agent – and social media is a great way of showing your creativity
I knew Instagram was important for engagement, but I didn’t realise it could generate so many new bookings. You have to be creative if you want to succeed as an agent – and social media is a great way of showing your creativity.
Now people who were following my friend’s blog are coming to me for a wide range of holidays, not just Mauritius. It shows what a bit of team spirit can do, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve been so busy in recent months.
I recently completed my biggest‑ever booking, which came to £130,000. But it wasn’t easy getting it over the line!
It’s for a family of six visiting Hawaii in May. They were due to fly on April 26, but I had to move the booking back a few weeks after they got Covid, which added to the overall cost, not to mention the stress. But that’s just part of the job.
I recently completed my biggest‑ever booking, which came to £130,000 – but it wasn’t easy getting it over the line
I’ve spent the past week pretty much solely on this booking, but it was worth it, as they sent me a lovely email to thank me for my hard work.
They wouldn’t have got this service had they not booked through an experienced agent, that’s for sure.
Have laptop, will travel
Fam trips are back with a bang and the whole Swords Travel team is going to the Sani and Ikos resorts in Greece at the beginning of May. It will be our first fam trip together as a team and we’re so excited. We sell a lot of Sani and Ikos properties, and we all find that once we’ve seen a hotel, we’re much better at selling it.
I’ve got some other big fam trips lined up too. And no matter where I go, my laptop always comes with me, so I can make bookings and respond to customers’ messages wherever I am.