Get training on track

Last week saw Worldchoice become the only travel company to accept the National Training Award, for its Action Plan for Profit agents initiative.

The APP aims to give independent agents a strict business structure and maximise profits by really concentrating on growth areas and looking at new revenue streams. The plan involves a one-day course and back-up from Worldchoice.

Training director Barbara Collins put the APP together. She said: “I am so thrilled as this award is very difficult to come by.

“It was a gruelling process to put the nomination together and it was a great achievement just to get to the final round.”

This year the award winners’ ceremonies are in October and November. Organisers of the National Training Awards say it is the UK’s top accolade for businesses, organisations and individuals who have achieved excellence through training and learning.

Case study 1 – Alan Holt, managing director, FlightFinders

workplace alan holt 260805Alan Holt has run FlightFinders from its Peterborough base for the past 13 years but, like many independent agents, needed help with his managerial skills.

He completed the Action Plan for Profit last year at a time when he described his business as being at a crossroads in terms of focus and direction.

“The plan helped me as I have no real managerial qualifications,” he said. “But it gave me a structure for the business and allowed me to create a three-year plan.”

Holt was unsure about whether to open a second shop, but following the APP’s direction he decided to set up two websites and expand his telesales business to minimise costs. Business is subsequently 17% up this financial year following the success of the site, which cost £20,000 to set up but has already repaid the investment.

Holt is in the process of setting up a second site, called, to further strengthen the business.

Case Study 2 – John Garbutt, owner, Thorpe Travel

workplace john garbutt 260805Thorpe Travel owner John Garbutt has been able to take a step back and analyse his business after completing the Action Plan for Profit last November.

The Norwich agent has used the experience to look at key parts of the business, including ski, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, golf and cruise, to ensure each has a strict direction for growth.

Cruise, in particular, has been booming for Garbutt since the course.

He said: “We are now dong very well on cruise and have just set up the Norfolk Cruise Club which highlights what we are good at.

“Since the course I have concentrated on the website and ensured our sales material is relevant with the result that cruise is really growing for us.”

Garbutt has two dedicated cruise staff in his shop, an investment which he says is vital for an independent agent to succeed in this sector.

The APP has also allowed him to improve the personnel side of the business to such an extent that he has gained an Investors in People award.

Case Study 3 – Helen Burgess, partner, Purser’s Travel

workplace helen burgess 260805Cruise was identified as an important area for the owners of Purser’s Travel after they completed the initial trials for the Action Plan for Profit.

The agency, which has two shops in the Manchester area, put together a structured plan to increase its cruise bookings.

Purser’s looked at gaining accreditation with P&O Partnership, staff educationals and organising comprehensive mailings to clients.

Partner, and Worldchoice director, Helen Burgess said: “What the plan did was make us sit down and form a structured plan for cruise and we have really developed our business.”

The company is now a member of Cruise Choice and works with other Worldchoice agents to market its knowledge of the sector.

Other benefits from the APP include the merging of two shops into one, the result of which is less overheads but almost the same amount of business.

Case Study 4 – Alison Robert, director/manager, Locations Travel

workplace alison roberts 260805Alison Roberts has seen a big rise in profits at her shop after she implemented radical changes under the Action Plan for Profit scheme.

A director and manager of Locations Travel in Denton, Manchester, Roberts undertook an APP day-course to help her reinvigorate the one-shop business.

She said: “The course made me look at the business in a new light and helped me improve it.

“Last year’s profits were up 25% and a lot was down to the Action Plan for Profit.”

The shop focused on directional selling with key operators which sold very well. “Staff were also happy with this as they could gain more incentives,” said Roberts.

There was also more of a focus on Australia and New Zealand – key sellers for Locations.

Roberts also now adds credit card charges into final bills, a move which turned a £2,000 loss over six months into a £500 profit.















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