Operators should simplify e-shots for time poor agents, says Sharon Fleming, director of Thompson Travel International

Travel is constantly changing. There are always new routes, new rules and new reasons to go to the next trendy spot in the world. Some hotels are being upgraded, others are being closed, new cruise ships are being built at a ferocious rate – all of it to meet the demands of customers who want the best they can get for their pound.

The question I have is how do you stay on top of the abundant supply of updates, deals and information that arrives in your office every day – in other words, all those emails? No sooner have you read a dozen, deleted a dozen, prioritised a dozen and dealt with a dozen, then gone off to deal with a dozen enquiries, and your inbox is full again.

No further than the title

How many of us read the subject line, and if that doesn’t grab our attention either delete the message, add it to the follow-up pile or stick it in a folder for future reference? Even reading messages quickly can swallow up to two hours each day.

The easy option, I suppose, is to delegate them to someone responsible in the office and add it to their overflowing list of queries.

While messages can be quickly and tidily shifted into priority lists, you still have to remember what you read in the first place. It is said that our short-term memory acts as a kind of scratch-pad for temporary recall of the information being processed at any point in time. That short-term memory has been called the brain’s Post-it note. It holds a small amount of information – typically seven or fewer items – in an active, readily available state for 10 to 15 seconds, or sometimes up to a minute.

The elephant is traditionally thought of as having the greatest memory in the animal world, but apparently the bottle-nosed dolphin is no memory slouch either, able to recognise old friends even after decades apart. With my own memory moving into goldfish mode, I need a solution.

Mass of detail

Trying to recall which cruise deal is the best at the moment means retaining a lot of information and bringing it quickly back to mind. Is there onboard credit? Is there a free flight? When does that offer end? How long is that airline seat sale? When does that new route start? Who is giving the best commission on that package to China?

Is there a way that providers could simplify all this for us? Could they, for instance, send us less frequent emails? Could they make their offers last a bit longer and not send us a reminder every day? Could they grab our attention with bullet points rather than lengthy paragraphs of prose?

All of us in the travel industry need great working memories and we want to keep it that way, especially as those who do are thought to be more optimistic, self-assured and likely to lead a happy and successful life.

There are so many operators we want to support. We want the best commission, the best deals for our clients, the best hotels, the best seat sales, the best fam trips, but, please, keep it short and simple.