Earlier this year Travel Weekly and Superbreak joined forces to give three readers the chance to take a two-night trip ‘on their doorstep’ in a bid to tap into the local market and promote UK breaks and holidays.
The three winners took up the challenge – all visiting a hotel within a two-hour drive of their agency.
Wessex Hotel, Winchester
Gillian Davis, manager, Alexandra Travel, Ponders End, Enfield stayed at the Wessex Hotel with her husband Stephen. It is a two- hour journey on the train.
“The hotel was centrally located and overlooked the cathedral. It had a real 1960s feel and rooms were lovely.
“We spent the two days visiting Winchester – there were a lot of boutique restaurants, markets and museums. We also visited the home of the Bishop of Winchester which was really interesting.
“There were a real mix of people staying at the hotel so it’s ideal for everyone.
“In our office we do get a lot of people asking for UK breaks, particularly for birthdays and anniversaries. Most of our customers are repeat clients so it is a good way to keep them by offering short breaks for special occasions.”
- A two-night break at the four-star Wessex Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis on January 5 costs £164 per person.
Carousel Hotel, Blackpool
Vickie Hughes, modern apprentice, Thomson Retail, Formby, Liverpool stayed at the Carousel Hotel with her boyfriend Keith. The hotel is an hour’s drive from Formby.
“I had a great time. I was a bit shocked because I wasn’t expecting it to be really nice and it was. When we arrived we ordered room service as the restaurant was busy. It was really nice and there was a good choice.
“We were five minutes from the Pleasure Beach which was great. We went to the fair as well as walking along to the pier and shopping.
“It will be easier to sell breaks to Blackpool now I’ve been there. For people who don’t want a spa break or similar it is a great place.
“I’ve increased my UK sales since I took the break. If somebody comes into your agency looking for a city break you should offer the UK as well a short breaks abroad.”
- A two-night break at the three-star Carousel Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis costs £99 per person.
Bartley Lodge, New Forest
Melanie Raymond, senior sales consultant, Howard Travel, Trowbridge stayed at Bartley Lodge with her partner Mark and 10-month old daughter Abigail.
“Bartley Lodge is an old hunting lodge – it was lovely and quaint and the decor was in keeping with the theme of the lodge. It had a really nice bar and restaurant area and the hotel offers a baby listening service.
“While staying at the lodge we went to Southampton which was only 20 minutes’ drive and then into Lymington which was nice.
“If I want to sell a break to the New Forest it is really helpful as now I know what is suitable or not.
“We don’t travel in the UK as much as we should. In our agency we always have offers in the window for the UK and a dedicated section for England. We sell quite a lot of UK holidays – more so over the last 12-18 months.”
- A two-night break at the three-star Bartley Lodge on a half-board basis on January 5 costs £150 per person.
- For hotels go to superbreak.com/travelagent
Agents need to recognise the potential in selling breaks closer to home, according to Superbreak’s sales director Ian Mounser (pictured).
He said agents could add up to £1,000 onto their commission by booking at least one extra UK break a month, based on an average booking of £200-£300.
He said: “This year has been tough but the domestic market has performed better than most and agents are recognising that.
Mounser said special occasions are great selling opportunies for agents.
“People want to get away for one or two-night breaks. It’s all about promoting breaks that are just down the road. Agents don’t often promote that. With the doorstep challenge we wanted to say ‘let’s put that message out there and get agents to take a break locally,’ which has worked well.
“We know our customers want to take these breaks.They’re all relatively high spenders on overseas travel who want to take breaks throughout the year.”
How to sell a UK holiday
- Recognise their potential and have confidence in selling the UK.
- Identify two or three locations and within each of those select a couple of hotels to promote.
- Use the Superbreak website to save favourite destinations and hotels to the home page
- Christmas shopping breaks are a great idea – use windows for advertising this or any other occasion such as Valentine’s Day.