The practice of dynamic packaging may be well established, but agents still differ in their approach and their levels of success.

I caught up with a call centre agent, a homeworker and a high street agent to hear about their experiences and get their advice for other agents.

Darren Wetherell, branch manager, Hays TravelThe high-street agent

Darren Wetherell, branch manager, Hays Travel

Hays Travel has coined the phrase the ‘Hays Way’ to sell the dynamic packaging concept to customers.

According to Darren, who manages Hays’ branch in Wallsend, the company highlights typical package holidays to customers and then asks them if they would like the consultant to do a search to see if it can be done more cheaply.

Consultants use the retailer’s in-house dynamic packaging system, iSell, to access flights, hotels and transfers. Other add-ons are then sourced from third party websites.

When it comes to the right time to offer ancillary items, Darren says it is important to let customers know about the additional elements at the time of booking and make them aware that these can be added at a later stage either with a follow-up phone call or email.

Despite the current economic climate and the demise of a number of airlines such as Flyglobespan in the past year, Darren says dynamic packaging has been going from strength to strength for the company with sales growth every year.

“We have had a fantastic January. Because we have the variety of suppliers on the one system it comes back with a huge range,” he says.

Dean Wilson, Travel CounsellorsThe homeworker

Dean Wilson, Travel Counsellors

Dean does not have any trouble selling the idea of dynamic packages to his customers. In general, he finds customers get a better deal in terms of price and it enables him to improve their experience.

“They get to choose from a greater range of flights and better times, and you can add in a private transfer. The great thing about dynamic packaging is that for some destinations you have 20 suppliers and many types of room. There is more choice,” he says.

“There is no art to selling a package. It’s a commodity. If you create a dynamic package it is fairly unique”

In Dean’s experience the kind of customer likely to go for a dynamic package is also likely to buy additional components. But he is mindful of not overloading his customers with add-ons at the time of booking so he often emails them with suggestions at a later stage.

Travel Counsellors also has a policy of contacting customers halfway between the booking and departure date and Dean says this is another good time to propose extras such as tours and excursions.

“If you call yourself a travel counsellor you’re setting yourself up for a fall if you don’t improve the overall experience. It’s about trying to offer them something they would not have been offered before without looking like you’re trying to flog them things. It’s about letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them.”

The current version of Travel Counsellors’ Phenix dynamic packaging system does not prompt consultants to offer tours and excursions but there are plans to include that functionality in future.

Dean believes suggesting add-ons to customers is a “no-brainer”.

“You have already done the hard work. If I have a quiet minute I go through my files to see how to improve the experience.

“There is no art to selling a package. It’s a commodity. If you create a dynamic package it is fairly unique.”

Dean says being a homeworker also helps with getting into the dynamic packaging mindset.

“On the high street the focus is on sales. As a travel counsellor the focus is first and foremost on the customer experience. And even if it’s only a £3 commission on something, I work for myself and it’s my £3 commission.”

Lisa Leonard, manager, Escape The call centre agent

Lisa Leonard, manager, Escape (The Co-operative Travel’s in-house dynamic packaging division)

Lisa believes getting dynamic packaging right is a combination of having access to the right product and to technology that is quick and easy to use.

The company uses a range of accommodation suppliers as well as having direct contracts with some of its top-selling properties, thereby giving it access to competitive prices.

Four years ago the dynamic packaging process was very manual but the Co-op has since developed in-house technology which enables agents to search airlines and accommodation providers.

The company uses up to three reservations systems as well as XML links and API feeds with suppliers and global distribution systems to gain access to the widest product range. Escape then drives dynamic packages to the Co-operative Travel’s shops via its website.

Escape does not have to sell the dynamic packaging concept to customers as its customers are the retail network. Lisa says: “We have to offer consistent and good service and ensure we provide the right product at the right price via an efficient booking engine.”

With Escape acting as the in-house dynamic packaging arm, agents in shops can offer a dynamic package when confronted by a consumer with an online offer pulled from a website.