Spear Travel’s Kim Kent hopes the travel industry is due a much-needed sales boost after a chance encounter
There is light at the end of the tunnel! After weeks and weeks of lockdown, cancelling holidays, rebooking clients and chasing refunds, it’s refreshing to finally get some new enquiries – and not just any old enquiries.
Last year, my very good school friend held a party at her house to which a select few of us were invited. She is an interesting character. She was the naughtiest girl in the school, but went on to become a solicitor and is now a judge. Knowing what I do about her I always titter to myself when she jokes that ‘you should really call me Ma’am’.
“After weeks and weeks of lockdown, cancelling holidays, rebooking clients and chasing refunds, it’s refreshing to finally get some new enquiries.”
At the party, there were some interesting people to chat to. Work always comes up in conversation when you’re meeting new folk and my job as a travel agent always fascinates people, so it becomes a good networking opportunity. Everyone loves to chat about travel and I’d soon made friends and was being asked for my contact details.
A few months later, I got a call from one of them. Although he’d already made most of his travel arrangements for the year, there were a few gaps that I could help fill in for him. He was really pleased with what I offered and the customer service I gave.
Last week, I received an email from the same chap asking for my help to organise a 70th birthday treat for his partner. He wanted 11 family members to go to a nice hotel in Majorca next May. I called Prestige Holidays and checked availability for the Hotel Illa d’Or in Pollensa, which I felt would suit them perfectly. The availability was fine, we agreed all the details and the cost came to £17k. He was very happy with my choice and made the booking there and then. I was chuffed to have made a new booking at last.
“He was very happy with my choice and made the booking there and then. I was chuffed to have made a new booking at last.”
Then the same customer called me again, saying his partner had expressed an interest in going to Scandinavia on a cruise and asked if I would be so kind as to have a look at some options for him. I remembered he had mentioned cruises to me at the party. I did some research and, after a little deliberation, decided to suggest a Regent Seven Seas cruise in Norway and Sweden in July 2021, sailing for 18 nights, staying in the penthouse suite, all of which came to £16.5k per person.
I felt it was a long shot, but I knew it would be a fantastic cruise. So I was thrilled when he called again the next day to confirm that he would like to go ahead, saying ‘life is too short’.
These bookings have made me think. If this customer represents the wider consumer sentiment, then perhaps agents, and the travel industry as a whole, are due a long-awaited and much-needed sales boost after such a long spell of doing no new business throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“If this customer represents the wider consumer sentiment, then perhaps agents, and the travel industry as a whole, are due a long-awaited sales boost.”
With the lockdown starting to ease and more businesses opening from July 4, people might begin to have the confidence to plan ahead and book their next holiday.
For me, it’s a lovely £50k from one customer – and all from going to a party. Perhaps I should stop tittering about my friend and say to her, ‘Thank you, Ma’am!’
I’ll be back in the shop on Monday
We’re planning to open the agency again on Monday [July 6] for the first time in almost four months. We are following the government guidelines, of course, and have a ton of PPE [personal protective equipment] to arrange in the shop. It will only be me going in to start with, on a closed‑door policy with reduced hours. Clients can make an appointment to come and see me for new bookings only, and for no more than 30 minutes at a time. It’s going to be so strange, as I know so many people in the area.
Gosh, how life has changed in such a short space of time.