Agent Diary: There is a bright light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel for our industry

The team is making up for lost time being apart and customers’ main concern is the face mask tan, says Hays Travel, Washington, Tyne & Wear branch manager Colin Burns

The team is making up for lost time being apart and customers’ only concern is the face mask tan

“Hello, do I need to wear a mask?” asked the customer as she sat down at Dane’s desk.

“No, you don’t look so bad,” was Dane’s reply, causing a ripple of giggles to pass over the shop and, as usual, he got away with it.

That’s one of the things we’ve all missed while working from home, the banter with our customers and between the team. Now we’re back in store we are making up for lost time, getting back to ‘normal’.

Of course it’s not normal yet; we have Perspex screens, hand sanitising stations, antibacterial wipes and spray and a mountain of blue roll to help us through the day. The shop has never been so clean! And, despite some apprehension of how customers might react to our keep safe measures, they are being accepted and welcomed.

Business is good

We’ve talked a lot about what we’ve missed most, and in the main it is the buzz of helping customers find that perfect holiday and securing bookings. The nearest we had during lockdown was the buzz of rebooking customers so they don’t take a full refund.

On our first day back a couple of weeks ago we had queues outside most of the day. It was stressful for us as, due to social distancing, we had about half the team available. The day passed without a break, but with good humour. Since then we’ve remained busy and from day one many customers coming in or calling have made new bookings.

Lots of customers decided they don’t really care what measures may be in place, what forms they may need to complete to get away (and come back), they just want to get away. One of their only concerns is the dreaded face mask tan replacing the watch strap tan!

We are being asked daily about what is going on in resorts, what is open and what should customers expect when they arrive. This can be difficult as the situation is changing so quickly. In this respect, social media is both an angel and the devil. Stories like having to book a specific time to go to the beaches and cutting straw holes in your mask to sup your favourite cocktail through are being shared and exaggerated – but there are some really good blogs with great information.

Bright light

On the other hand, my good friend Louise from our Redcar branch is in Benidorm at the moment and has posted on social media about her experience in Alicante and around the resort, which has been a great help to us. We have to be guarded and tell customers what’s happening now, not what may or may not be happening when they go next June.

The coming weeks will continue to be tough, and my heart goes out to colleagues, friends and associates who have not made it through this time. To them I say, good luck, keep the faith and there will be ways back into our fantastic travel community.

There is a bright light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel for our industry. Shops are open, customers are pleased to see us back and business is improving daily. Keep an eye on the things you can’t control, and be ready for changes, but focus on what you can control and what agents do best – looking after our customers.


Talia is back with a bang

Among the banter we have missed so much during lockdown has been the ‘Taliaisms’. But she’s back with a bang.

We asked what she had been up to during her recent time on furlough and she excitedly told us she’d bought a bike.

“Ah great” we all said, “so have you been out getting your daily exercise?”

“No”, she says. “It’s got too many gears and I can’t work them. I don’t know why I bought one with so many gears when I’m learning to drive in an automatic car.”

Welcome home Tals!


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