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Food for thought


Stop what you’re doing and look down at your keyboard. Can you see that mouldy bit of cheese and stale bread wedged behind the return key? If so, you’re not alone.


According to research by the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association, 20% of agents never take a break and 50% of agents never take their full lunch-break allocation. If that sounds like you, you really should get out more.


Follow Travel Weekly’s guide to ‘10 things to do to give yourself a proper lunch hour’.


1.LEARN SOMETHING NEW
– and earn more commission from it. Look at one of the many online free training programmes as part of the Travel Weekly Training Academy. The Kenya Tourist Board is the latest body to launch an online course with the Academy. By completing 10 modules, agents can become Kenya Specialists.


If Africa’s not your area, take a peek at the Cayman Islands, St Lucia or New Mexico, for example. To sign up to the Academy, visit www.travelweekly.co.uk/Academy.


2. CHECK OUT YOUR RIVALS
Stretch your legs and wander right into your opposition. Just seeing how busy they are will tell you a thing or two. What sort of deals are they offering. Can your agency beat them? Remember, if you can’t join them, beat them – all the best ideas are worth nicking.


3. SURF THE NET
Okay, so you’ll have to be at your desk to do this, but you can leave the sandwich until later.


Check out the latest travel news at websites such as Travelweekly.co.uk. Try typing a word into Google’s News area to see what it brings up. Remember, your clients will become regulars if you can impress them with knowing all the latest on where to go and, importantly, where not to go.


For the latest travel advice see the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, Fco.gov.uk.


4. HAVE A GIGGLE
When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh? Probably not often enough.


According to the Laughter Network, a group whose goal it is to bring more happiness into people’s lives, laughing is good for us. It releases endorphins which give us that ‘feel good factor’, acts as a great team-building tool that encourages communication and relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension.


Check out Laughternetwork. co.uk to find out about laughing events in your area. And remember, a happy team of travel agents will surely bring customers into the shop – if only to share a joke.


5. TAKE A BREAK
Head to the local park, feed the ducks, take in the air – do something other than sitting down. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles mean there are more and more people suffering from backache.


Helen Woodward, a consultant at Spa Travel in Wetherby, said: “I always take a lunch break, whether it’s just 40 minutes or so.


“You need to walk away at times and go for a wander. The other day some of us all went out and had our eyebrows plucked. It was a one-off but it was fun.”


Rick Clarkson, a consultant at Wessex World Travel, goes for a walk along the River Shreen, or drives out to his local fishing lake. “I try to get out every day,” he said.


6. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
If Spain’s a big seller for you but you can’t hablas espagnol, then shame on you. Impress your colleagues and clients by speaking the lingo of a chosen destination.


Check out your local library for lunchtime courses, or try a course by a company such as Commercial Language Training. Visit Languagetraining.com to see what’s on offer.


7. LOOK FOR LOVE
Mr or Mrs Right in an hour could be tricky, but it’s not unheard of. Check out Rapid Romance’s Let’s Lunch club at Rapidromance.co.uk to set yourself up with a lunch date. If you play your cards right, and are feeling a bit flush, you could have a date every lunchtime.


8. GET FIT
Apart from feeling a bit sweaty -– you might want to make sure there are showers available – you’ll feel more awake, alert and all the more eager to sell some great holidays after some lunchtime exercise.


Susie Whalley, deputy editor at health and fitness magazine Zest, said: “You often get distracted when you get home from work and you reach for a glass of wine. So lunchtime is a brilliant, no-excuses opportunity to do some exercise.


“Even a good walk will do, although you won’t get loads of benefits from dawdling.On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is the hardest, walk at the equivalent of around six or seven and you will feel the benefits.”


Lots of gyms are now offering half-hour classes which are easier to fit into your lunchbreak, or alternatively try to find a spare room for some yoga stretches.


9. GO SHOPPING
No not for you – for your clients. Who sells the best two-for-one deals on suntan lotion, travel insurance and the must-have beach books this summer?


Once they’ve spent hundreds of pounds on their holiday, any tips on cheap holiday accessories will be music to your clients’ ears.


10. TREAT YOURSELF
When was the last time you all went out as a team? The best way to welcome new staff, boost morale or celebrate a good sales week is to go out for a slap-up meal at lunchtime.


C&M Recruitment managing director Angus Chisholm said: “If we have a good sales week or when new members join, we get a really nice lunch delivered, or we all go out.”

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