Successful personal relationships depend on mutual trust, openness and constant communication.
The same can be said for business relationships. Tour operator Premier Holidays and East Anglian agency group Travel Centre say that their relationship has been so successful trading has increased by more than a third in the last year.
Their relationship developed from an initial meeting between Premier Holidays’ sales manager Kerri Watt and the seven-office Travel Centre’s managing director Rachael Crampton and head of personnel and training Angie Waterman.
“We got to know Kerri at Triton conferences and had a number of meetings with her about product. Then she suggested that they undertake some South African training and we sent one staff member from each of our five key offices to their head office in Cambridge for the day,” says Waterman.
That was the catalyst. Those five staff returned to their own offices and passed on their knowledge to colleagues.
“Within six weeks our total long-haul business with Premier went up by 455 per cent,’” reported Angie.
Other initiatives have followed, including joint window displays and Premier supporting Travel Centre’s own travel show at Norwich City FC – where the company has a travel office. Premier-themed fliers in the executive boxes and advertisements in match programmes are other initiatives centred on the club.
Places for Travel Centre staff on educationals have been provided and further training and staff booking incentives are now in the pipeline.
“Of course, you can’t have this sort of relationship with an operator if the product isn’t good in the first place,” said Waterman. “They also have to have a good reputation, which Premier does.
“We have the sort of relationship with Premier that if one of our people find a comparable holiday cheaper than Premier, we can call them up and tell them and they’ll work with us to get the business.
“We also know if things go wrong, which can happen with any company, we only have to pick up the phone and someone will sort it out immediately. The relationship is based on an excellent level of communication.”
Premier’s Kerri Watt agreed: “From our side, it’s great that Travel Centre allow us access to staff at every level. I can go into any of their branches and not only speak to the manager but any of the staff as well.’
“Our business with Travel Centre is up 36 per cent year on year, so you can see that relatively simple things really do work,” added Kerri.
“We just keep talking to each other. It’s great.”
The expert’s view
TIPTO chairman Colin Wilson
“The business success for Premier Holidays and Travel Centre was founded on one thing – a personal relationship. We all spend so much time communicating via e-mail and phone these days that it is all too easy to overlook the fact that in this business who you know is just as important as what you know.
One of the best ways of achieving personal relationships is, of course, to simply get out of the oce. Getting yourself a place at a TIPTO roadshow or events staged by principals means there is a good chance that you will meet someone who can help you in your business in the months ahead.
It’s important for travel agency stato have the opportunity to go to some of the major travel industry conferences. I know proprietors and managers find it hard to justify the time and cost involved but they really should regard it as an investment. Training is the other fundamental part of this success story.”
1. Ensure clear and regular communication
2. Provide staff training
3. Attend networking events
4. Innovate – it pays off
5. Provide product feedback
The Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation is now in its eighth year of operation. It is a consortium of 20 independent travel companies who pool resources to jointly market themselves to independent travel agencies and homeworkers.