The importance of customer service was at the forefront of the three‑day event, says Hays Travel Gateshead branch manager Colin Burns
“And the winner of the hairdryer is…Colin from the Gateshead branch!” Now, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but if you’ve missed the irony here, just look at the top of the page!
Yes, that was the prize I won at the Hays Travel Retail Conference in Portugal last week. And it was not just any old hairdryer but a Dyson Airwrap, and I (or rather Mrs B) am very grateful to Mastercard for kindly donating it to the conference.
We gathered once again to reflect on the past year and look forward to what the coming year will hold
And what a conference it was, as we gathered once again to reflect on the past year and look forward to what the coming year will hold, as well as to how we can use our powers to make sure we get our unfair share of the travel market.
The importance of customer service was at the forefront of the three‑day event and a truly inspirational speech from consumer and shopper behaviouralist Ken Hughes showed the power we have when it comes to going beyond merely satisfying our customers’ needs.
There were presentations by head office teams, supplier partners and amazing guest speakers, all of whom set out to inspire us.
We also heard from branch manager colleagues who were given the opportunity to share the successes they have had by offering amazing customer service in their branches.
They shared tales of little things like making sure every customer is made to feel welcome with a cup of tea and a custard cream, through to unscheduled trips to the Passport Office to make sure customers could get away on their dream holiday.
The trade exhibition gave us the chance to catch up with the suppliers and learn more about their products
Our supplier partners chipped in with presentations and product updates. And, in keeping with ‘The Power of You’ conference theme, we had visits from Wonder Woman (aka Claire Hills from Riviera Travel) and even a couple of Power Rangers (aka Kelly and Nicky from Attraction World), as well as a memorable session with Shane Lewis-Riley and Luke “Lukiebaby” Day from Virgin Voyages. The trade exhibition gave us the chance to catch up with the suppliers and learn more about their products.
Thank you, Tony
On the subject of suppliers, it was sad to hear that the wonderful Tony Byrne (aka Tony Tagliatelle) of Typically Holidays is to retire this year. Tony was my first role model back in the early 80s when he was the sales rep for Ellerman Sunflight and it was he who taught me how you can still be professional even when you are having fun. It was heartwarming to hear so many people talk about how Tony has inspired them over the years.
Tony was my first role model back in the early 80s when he was the sales rep for Ellerman Sunflight
Of course, the conference wasn’t all work. In true travel agent style we went big on the fancy dress and hosted our first SingStar competition. I thought this was going to be a glorified karaoke but the contestants delivered jaw-dropping performances, topped by Helen Pring from our Cardiff store whose rendition of Time to Say Goodbye really was amazing!
All in all, it was another memorable conference that has left us all feeling “empowered” to give our customers the very best service. Oh, and thanks to my prize, I can now do all of this while my hair looks fantastic too!
Smog on the Tyne
I like to keep a friendly atmosphere in my shop and make sure that every customer who walks through the door feels relaxed and right at home during their visit. Well, this literally ‘backfired’ on us the other day when a customer slowly lifted one buttock off her seat and broke wind! The look of horror on our Beth’s face was funny enough. But it was topped by what the customer did next: upon leaving, she took a can of air freshener out her bag and sprayed the shop, cheerily telling customers who had arrived after the ‘incident’, that: “There is a good reason for doing this, gentlemen, but I won’t go into it right now!” Only in Gateshead…