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Victoria: Is trading tough? Then find your inner Apprentice

Teletext Holidays managing director Victoria SandersLove it or hate it, The Apprentice is still a great talking point. Lord Alan Sugar’s latest bunch of young boardroom egos don’t always come across as the sharpest tools in the box, but they are presented with some interesting challenges.

A couple of weeks ago the travel industry was in the spotlight when they were asked to create a new product for the beach.

The results were pretty forgettable, but it did make me think that I’d love to set them the task of being a travel agent.

I wonder how the would-be business leaders of the future would tackle shifting holidays in dire market conditions?

I was talking about entrepreneurs in travel at the Travel Convention in Malta. There are plenty of people to admire in our industry who have turned an innovative idea into a thriving business.

Just look at Southall Travel – the only travel agent to be listed in the recent influential Sunday Times Top Track 250 of the UK’s most successful mid-market private companies.

Entrepreneurial spirit is always something that I look for in new recruits, no matter what level they are in the business. I love to see someone who comes up with ideas and can put them into practice.

But sadly I think there are a lot of people in our industry right now who lack creative flair when it comes to generating sales.

The past two years of economic turmoil have been unprecedented and we have all had to up our game to deal with managing a business through the downturn. I fear the gloom has taken its toll.

It’s struck me recently that the fighting spirit seems to have gone. It’s only mid-November yet I keep hearing “there’s no point doing anything tactical until January”.

Well, let’s face it, the new year sales aren’t what they used to be and I suspect there are going to be a lot of disappointed people when January trade doesn’t come flooding through the door.

We all need to find our inner entrepreneur. There are people out there who want to buy holidays. We have to use every tactic, contact and idea to stay ahead of the game. Low deposits, added value, brand partnerships – the drive for sales needs to be year-round.

The great thing about The Apprentice is we all think we could do better. Well here’s a challenge. Let’s imagine Lord Sugar is gazing over our shoulder this week and giving us his verdict on our business achievements. Would you be hired or fired?

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