David Speakman, founder of Travel Counsellors, has written an open letter to agents in the homeworking group to offer advice and support during the coronavirus crisis.
The letter says the current “catastrophe” highlights the need for a trusted travel consultant, and urges them to keep in touch with customers and fellow Travel Counsellors.
“Don’t try to sell anything, your role now is to reassure, care, help and connect as they want someone to trust,” he says.
“Tell them where they can get toilet rolls or just tell them you are at end of the phone. Be that person you are proud of, everything will turn out even better in future. More than business, you will feel better about yourself and in control.
“You are fantastic…believe in yourself, you can do it.”
The full text of his letter is below:
I have been asked by a number of you to just write a few words about the present situation. I do it as I still hold the TC family as very special.
These are unprecedented times but if there is one catastrophe that would highlight the need for a trusted travel consultant it would be this.
Remember this is when you excel, this is when customers want and need your help and those that booked themselves will wish they’d booked through you. This why customers book through agents, a big part of the deal alongside your experience is that you will be there for them if something goes wrong.
This is exactly why you became a travel consultant. This is the time when you can strut your stuff and customers want you to. This is your stage, your competency, do your job, enjoy and take the applause.
I know it’s difficult, but put the temporary issue of income at one side. I’m sure those in control at head office will come up with measures that will help. As you know everyone is busy but don’t worry, all will be okay. Many consultants will lose their jobs and you are still employed by yourself. You are in charge of your own destiny still. Hiccups happen in business but you still have a job, you still have customers, you still have a business. Now you must look to protect it and build it stronger.
You are working for a better life for you and your family, not just for the short term but for a year, five years, ten years. So you build your business now by doing the right thing now for future business.
People will start to travel again and if you have done the right thing more customers will realise your value. Give your present customers bragging rights to brag about you. You might not be able to solve everything but your authenticity and your willingness to persevere will shine through, you will retain customers and they in turn will refer you to others.
But now is the time to be fulfilled, to make your family proud of you and be proud of yourself.
Believe in yourself, people want you to care and they want someone they can trust. Trust is what you sell.
Credibility that you are part of a bigger company, reliability that you are always there and selflessness, meaning you will put your customers before yourself are the component parts of Trust.
Call your customers and chat to them, just keep in touch. Don’t try to sell anything, your role now is to reassure, care, help and connect as they want someone to trust. This is the time to go beyond being a travel agent, you are a caring person and a phone call when you don’t have to make it will show your humanity and you’ll feel good. Tell them where they can get toilet rolls or just tell them you are at end of the phone. Be that person you are proud of, everything will turn out even better in future. More than business you will feel better about yourself and in control.
Stay positive not just for yourself but also for others. Customers need you to be positive and so do fellow TC’s. It’s easy to slip into negative thoughts but that will just be self-defeating, why score an own goal? Remember it’s your business, you empower yourself to set the tone around you. Call your fellow TC’s, laugh at the situation and talk about the opportunities and good times in the next few months. Include every TC. Call a TC that you have not previously spoken to, just like customers some want reassurance, many want to know that out there, others are handling the predicament. A problem shared is a problem halved but better, an opportunity shared is an opportunity doubled.
You are fantastic, just make your customers have it, believe in yourself, you can do it. That’s why you took that step to work for yourself, so now work for yourself.