WHAT is your opinion of a flight-only sale? A nice little earner every now and then, or the road to bigger bucks?
For most people, the flight is the first important part of their holiday booking. Once they have that in place they can think about adding accommodation and car hire or a resort transfer, which is where a good agent should take advantage of potential commission.
By dynamically packing a break, a simple £206 Excel Airways flight to Malaga next May for two adults can become a £686 booking with a week’s hotel accommodation.
And then there are all the other extras you can add to the booking so the client walks out the door with a complete package and no worries about having to book it themselves.
If that’s not convincing enough, here are 19 ways to sell flight-only.
1. Be dynamic
Don’t let the client get away with just a flight. Freedom Flights sales and marketing director Phil Norris said: “So you’ve visited our website, made the booking, what next? Keep the window open and start looking elsewhere for car hire, accommodation, transfers and so on. Make the first of many steps in helping you boost your commission earnings.”
2. Take a break
If a client is booking a family holiday, suggest they might like to book a short break for later in the year as well. Have some flight-only deals to hand to show them how cheap it will be.
3. Window dressing
Clients can’t book what they don’t know about so put some enticing offers in the shop window to make passers-by come in to find out more. Avro channel development manager Naomi Reed said: “Agents can be put on our database to receive late offer deals and forthcoming prices and these can then be used in the shop window to reach a wider range of people.”
4. Chart a course
Flight-only doesn’t have to mean no-frills. Lots of charter companies sell seats on their own. Make sure you know who they are.
5. A place in the sun
Clients with homes overseas are prime flight-only customers. Don’t ignore them just because they don’t want accommodation. They could still be in the market for car rental or a resort transfer.
6. Do your homework
Find out the favourite destinations for overseas home buyers among people in your catchment area and target them with special deals in the shop window and local papers.
7. Be competitive
If there is no commission on offer, by all means charge a fee for your time but don’t be greedy. Remember customers might be prepared to pay for your skill, but they can do simple bookings themselves.
8. Shop around
Avro managing director Michael Vinales said it’s essential agents research all options for flight-only requests from clients. “By using Avro’s dedicated agent website, retailers can not only look for our prices, flight times and availability, but also that of other key seat-only operators in the market. It’s ideal for agents as the system is faster and more cost-effective than searching or booking via viewdata.”
9. Destination skills
If your client hasn’t considered a flight-only break, be prepared to whet their appetite with several good reasons for visiting the Algarve or any other popular flight-only destination. Did you know the Algarve was popular for golf? Get to know what the region has to offer and pass on your knowledge.
10. Pamper them
Young couples who work hard might be thrilled by the idea of short break to one of the top spa hotels in Cyprus or Tenerife. You have already sold them on the hotel. Now all you need to do is find a flight to fit.
Offer to find a cheap flight and use the money they save on a nice hotel. Hotels4U sales development manager Simon Barnes said: “We’ve found people are prepared to spend a bit more on accommodation if they have saved on the flight.”
12. Don’t delay
Flight-only prices can change almost by the minute. Thomsonfly commercial director Guy Stephenson: “We always advise customers to book flights as early as possible to guarantee the best fare. Prices do fluctuate, but booking well in advance of travel can avoid any increase in cost.”
13. Shop talk
Have flyers on the counter highlighting your top flight-only deals, but make sure they are current.
14. Extra, extra
Secure the flight-only sale and then offer the add-ons. Holiday Extras sales director Howard Dove said: “There is vast potential for agents to sell add-ons for flight-only sales. Airport lounges, hotels and parking all make a customer’s flying experience more comfortable. By offering a complete service, clients are more likely to return next time. We pay up to £15 in commission so it’s a great way to earn extra cash.”
15. Try your local
Splash out on an advert in the local newspaper on the joys of a flydrive holiday, but don’t forget to mention your shop name and number plus the fact you can also book the flight, hotel, car hire and more.
16. It’s a deal
Agree a sales target with your favourite flight-only carrier in return for a percentage off the price. Freedom Flights sales and marketing director Phil Norris said: “Around 98% of our business is through the trade so we are always happy to talk to agents and discuss special deals as their sales volumes increase. This can give them the edge over the competition.”
17. Meal deal
Don’t let clients flying long-haul forget to book a meal. They will not thank you for an eight-hour flight with just Pringles to stave off the hunger pains.
18. Trade up
Several charter airlines have upgraded cabins on long-haul flights for just a little extra. First Choice charter flight manager Jeremy Preston said: “Customers can upgrade to Star Class Premier for as little as £170 return, for which they get a 36-inch seat pitch, nine-inch widescreen seat-back TV with entertainment on demand, upgraded meal option and more. Customers are often very happy to upgrade when you tell them how much legroom they are getting for the price, particularly for a long-haul flight.”
19. Flexible friend
Flight-only clients are not tied to an itinerary or airport, so why not suggest an open-jaw booking, letting them fly into one hub and out of another.