Anyone who thinks it’s not necessary to see a destination in order to sell it may change their mind when they speak to Donna Bicker.
The senior retail manager of Stewart Travel’s Prestwick branch has used her own experience to make two huge bookings to destinations she knows well.
Last year, she sold a group booking for a wedding party to Mauritius, worth £140,000. Ten years earlier, she herself had married on the island.
And she’s currently in the final throes of organising a mammoth group booking to Australia, which will be worth almost £400,000 by the time it goes ahead in July.
Again, she was able to draw on her experience of spending a year Down Under to help seal the deal and suggest the best options for the travellers.
It could have all been so different if Donna had chosen her other career option, to work as cabin crew.
She said: “When I left school, I was torn between working for an agency or an airline.
I decided to join Stewart Travel, and did my training with them. After that, I took a year out and went to Australia. When I came back I started working for Stewart Travel again.”
That was 20 years ago and Donna, aged 39, is now in charge of a team of eight people.
She was nominated for the title of Best Manager, Small Agency by her boss, Stewart Travel general manager Roddie McPhee for her drive and motivation to increase the level of business each year.
Of particular note is the way Donna handled the integration of two branches when Stewart Travel bought rival ATM Travel last year – a task which she performed “in an exemplary manner”, said Roddie.
“Donna’s greatest challenge over this period was to remain focused on maintaining the exceptionally high standard of customer service which her branch has become noted for over the course of time”.
With so many new tasks presented to her it would have been easy to have taken her eye off the ball. “This did not happen as Donna is totally committed to her customers and has successfully conveyed that commitment to her sales team by example, good leadership and fair and consistent discipline.”
Donna described being nominated for a Travel Weekly Agent Excellence Award as an honour. “It means a lot to know that the company appreciates me,” she said.
“On the night I was very nervous. When they called my name out I was chuffed to bits. I got flowers and cards from everybody in the company and the award itself is sitting here on my desk, taking pride of place.
“The Agent Excellence Awards themselves were a fantastic night out and it is always really good to meet other agents from the region who had also been nominated.”
Q&A with Donna BickerMauritius. I got married there 11 years ago and it has very special memories for me. It’s just pure luxury.
What’s you favourite destination?
Where would you like to go next?Le Meridien in Limasol. Luckily enough, my husband, daughter and I are all going there in May.
What’s been your best booking?A wedding in Mauritius for 12 people, worth £140,000.
What makes a good agency?Good customer service, going the extra mile, having knowledgeable staff, great team work and a nice friendly atmosphere.
What’s your next career move?
I would like to move up to a general manager position at some point.
Donna’s top five tips on how to be a good manager
- Lead by example
- Be supportive and approachable
- Always appreciate staff and never take them for granted
- Have a good attitude and encourage a good atmosphere in the office
- Be a good motivator