SELLING both mainland Greece and the Greek islands can mean a large range of clients and a lot of brochures. While Athens is great for city breaks – offered by operators such as Superbreak, Thomas Cook Signature and Inghams – the islands still attract families on package holidays where mainstream operators such as Cosmos dominate.
But the smaller islands are becoming more popular as people look for holidays away from the masses. This is where specialist operators such as Planet, Cyplon and Sunvil Holidays come into their own.
Confused? Travel Weekly spoke to a range of operators and got their tips on how to sell all three products effectively, starting with the mainland.
1. Ask questions
“Intelligent questioning always adds value to the clients’ experience and the level of commission,” said Superbreak sales director Ian Mounser.
“Find out what clients want to get out of a trip to Athens before putting a package together. Are they flexible on duration, for example? Or prices, departure date and so on?”
2. Stay central
Clients will often be prepared to pay more for accommodation to stay near the city centre as public transport can be both expensive and time-consuming. Make sure you use this information to sell as many upgrades as possible. The difference in price may be negligible.
3. Broaden horizons
There’s more to mainland Greece than Athens. “Get on to the Travel Weekly Academy and learn as much as you can about the country,” said Thomas Cook Signature sales and marketing co-ordinator Jody Hollingsworth. Other areas will be quieter, less expensive and just as beautiful.
4. History lessons
The mainland is better for sightseeing, particularly classic sites. Try suggesting the Peloponnese which has more evidence of its ancient past than many of the islands. Many operators in the resort of Tolon in the north offer guided coach trips to popular historical attractions such as Olympia, Epidavros and Mycenae.
5. Know where to wed
Halkidiki is a traditional town, ideal for weddings. It’s also great for diving with excellent PADI courses available. “Crete, Corfu and Zante are also great places to get married,” said Cosmos product manager Tracy Cox. “On Rhodes clients can marry in the Esperos Chapel in Kalithea.”
6. Fly to the islands
There are flights from Halkidiki to the Ionian islands for clients wanting to combine the mainland with the islands.
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7. Best of both worlds
The mainland can be twinned with the islands by combining Parga with a visit to Lefkas. Parga has the charm of a traditional and authentic Greek destination, while Lefkas is a quiet beach resort.
The islands that suffer most from mass tourism are larger ones such as Kos, Rhodes and Zante. They are well geared up for tourism, however, and are particularly family-friendly. Clients wanting a home-from-home style holiday will find these islands ideal. Large operators usually have great early or late-season deals so check out what’s on offer.
9. Choice in Corfu
Corfu is a great island for walking holidays with lots of lush greenery and cool breezes. There are also many golf courses and spas, so sell the island to couples as well as families and independent travellers.
10. Upmarket Rhodes
Rhodes has more to it than Faliraki. The resorts of Lardos and Lindos are gaining new five-star and boutique-style properties and are appealing to higher-spending clients.
11. Places to party
If your clients want somewhere with vibrant nightlife, Zante is the place of the moment. The area has lots of nightclubs where famous DJs play. The island is also family-friendly despite some negative press, with many five-star villas.
12. Crete goes classy
The largest and most southerly Greek island is Crete. It’s quieter than Rhodes, Zante or Kos and is starting to appeal to higher-spending clients as more upmarket hotels open.
13. Suggest a cruise
“If customers want to experience more of the Greek islands, why not recommend cruising,” suggests Cosmos’ Cox. “It’s the perfect way to relax and see many of the smaller islands in one go. We offer an Ionian Odyssey cruise which departs from Zante and stops at Corfu, Paxi and Cephalonia.”
14. Where’s remote?
As a rule of thumb, the more difficult the island is to get to, the quieter it will be. A short hydrofoil or ferry crossing can pay dividends for clients seeking peace and quiet. From busy Skiathos on the mainland, an hour’s jet ferry will take clients to quieter Skopelos, or a further 20 minutes will take them to even smaller Alonissos.
15. Seek a specialist
“With so many islands to choose from, it goes without saying that you select the right area to match clients’ requirements,” said Sunvil Holidays director Dudley der Parthog. “A neighbouring island can be completely different in character so, if you’re unsure, ring a specialist. That’s what we’re here for.”
16. Take to the water
Getting around by motorboat can be more practical than a car as the roads can be rough and many beaches are only accessible by water. Sunvil can prebook boats for hire from £21 per day.
17. Twin-centre tie-ups
Good combinations for twin-centre small island-hopping holidays include Cephalonia and Ithaca; Corfu and Paxos; Skiathos and Skopelos and Samos and Ikaria. There’s a new Sky Express 18-seater aircraft service out of Crete into Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes for island hopping in style.
18. Quiet in Cephalonia
“Cephalonia has quiet beaches where families can holiday in peace and quiet,” said Cosmos’ Cox. “The resort of Svoronata has two great beaches that are both ideal for water sports.”
19. Avoid the crowds
“The smaller the island, the busier it will seem in August when families arrive in their droves,” said Sunvil’s der Parthog. “If customers are worried about the extent of the crowds, it might be better to try to find them, a small resort on a bigger island. Try the tiny hamlets of Maltas in southwest Corfu.”
20. Small and trendy
Smaller islands such as Mykonos and Santorini in the Cyclades are appealing to higher-spending clients with upmarket and boutique products opening. Celebrities are starting to hang out on these islands, too, and you can’t get more of an accolade than that.
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