Just as Jill Oddy was desperately trying to find an escorted tour of Japan for clients with a very specific timespan, the answer came through the door as if by magic in the form of Trafalgar sales representative Aaron Candler.
She says: “By coincidence he came in when I was trying to look for a Japan tour for four people. I was struggling to find everything the clients wanted and the right dates. They also wanted to see certain sites and high-class accommodation.”
Fortunately, the rep was able to recommend a tour which not only matched the customers’ dates but also their needs in terms of places visited and hotels offered.
“He checked availability and the clients booked it. I had no idea that Trafalgar even offered Japan,” admits Jill, whose clients could only go on the trip during a six-week period when their friends came over to visit from South Africa.
For Jill, it just goes to show the benefits of tour operator sales reps coming to agents’ shops to give product updates.
“If he hadn’t happened to come into the shop at that moment Trafalgar would not have got that booking and I would not have known they offered Japan.
“It certainly helps to have sales reps come in to tell us about their products and services.”
Although her agency has a list of preferred suppliers, none of them could offer a tour on the specific dates required on this particular occasion.
“I had never booked Trafalgar before but you have to fit the holiday to the customer’s needs – and they had a fantastic time,” she adds.
Jill is convinced there is plenty of room for growth in the escorted tours market.
“We have a lot of solo travellers and retired people so we really have a good market for it in our area and I think you can switch-sell people quite easily to an escorted tour. We seem to be getting more enquiries,” she adds.