The penny finally drops

The ‘penny dreadful’ situation that arose at Mundi Color has been resolved. Readers may remember from this column earlier in the month, it seemed tickets were withheld from clients of Thorntons Travel on the premise 1p was outstanding on the invoice.

As with all these things, a little confusion goes a long way. Blanca at Mundi Color sorted out the whole thing in moments by explaining if a booking is made on the Mundi Color website, as it was in this case, the agent can print tickets and vouchers direct from the system by hitting ‘authorise.’ This is much simpler than waiting for documents to arrive in the post and without the stigma of the bad debtor. Talk about the penny dropping.

We all live and learn, as I told Frank at Mundi Color, who received the penny sent by Thorntons, taped to a piece of card.

It was Frank’s birthday that day – 30 something – and he thought some kind soul had sent him a gift, or a donation for his singing, (I’m told he has a lovely voice). Although if busking makes him a penny on a good day, I’d advise him to stick with the day job.

A model makeover

Carrier sales manager Gareth Hulmstone called in to the office this week on his tour of the West Country.

He asked if we had enough brochures, and, in replying, I commented on the attractiveness of the models on the covers. Gareth told me it’s the same girl on all of them, which surprised me, as she looks different in each shot.

He explained that Carrier had discovered this fabulous creature when a northern modelling agency sent along suitable models for the company’s photo shoot. This particular girl was selected and duly dispatched to Kenya for the shoot.

Having appeared on the front cover of all of Carrier’s brochures, her work has increased exponentially, and she is commanding serious sums for her work (unlike me who’s happy to get out of bed for tuppence ha’penny.)

I told Gareth that, in spite of her obvious beauty, Carrier may have created a monster and never be able to afford to use her again. This he agreed with, and told me the male model who appears with her has also become out of reach, fee wise.

My solution to the problem of costly models? Use the fabulous, fresh-faced and beautiful ladies and gentlemen who work in the travel industry. They’d do the job for half the price.

We could create our own ‘Miss Travel UK’ with operators selecting the final 10 and flying them out to an exotic location to test how well they react in the heat, I mean, we don’t want those anti-perspirant ticks appearing as soon as the sun comes out.

It’s a win-win situation. The winner gets the modelling job and the runners-up get a educational that will help them in their professional lives.

Gareth agreed it was a good idea, but let me down gently by explaining that in the world of publishing, the models for next year’s brochures had already been chosen.

Apparently, the selection of the models is something of a red-letter day for Carrier staff as they get to see all the prospective beauties. On the girls’ day, the male staff hang out of the windows to watch the models parade in, while I’m told that boys’ day resembles the scene from the Diet Coke ad where the women gather at the windows to show their appreciation of the male form.

On the subject of Carrier staff, Gareth showed us the Carrier website that has photos and brief biogs of the staff we talk to when we make a booking. Having dealt with Zoe quite a bit, it was great to put a face to the voice. And it’s a face that could model, too!

Happy anniversary

A couple of my clients recently returned from a tour of Asia and called in to update me on the hotels they had stayed in.

As regular visitors to that part of the world, they were dismayed to find their favourite hotels had become conference venues, clearly in the thrall of their corporate clients.

They wanted to celebrate an anniversary in one of the hotel’s restaurants, a restaurant familiar to them.

Unfortunately, it had been reserved for the delegates of a US company conference and they were forced to eat elsewhere.

They sought out the hotel manager to explain their dismay at the hotel’s lack of care for its ‘bread and butter’ (their words) guests in favour of a ‘once-a-year group booking’.

I tried to explain that very few hotels could afford to turn away a party of more than 100, and they agreed that it was an unfortunate experience.

They told me the management had given them a free meal and a bottle of champagne as a gesture of goodwill and I wanted to add that they were lucky there wasn’t a group of agents on a hotel inspection, but thought better of it.

Agent versus Russia

Some clients view the lowly travel agent as wielding more power than we ever could and although it’s nice to have high status in their eyes, it’s a bit of a pressure too.

Take the chap awaiting the return of his passport from the Russian embassy where his visa application had been lodged.

Rick explained he had plenty of time before departure, but this did not stop him from ringing every day to see if his passport was back.

His final demand suggested us to be a force in global politics: “You’re the agent. Hurry the Russians up!”