Branch Manager, Thomas Cook, Guernsey

Thomas Cook in Guernsey sells the most sports packages in the the company.

Manager Charlie Coyle says it may have less to do with the fact the majority of the travel agency’s staff are male, and more to do with their approach to selling holidays

Q: Your agency has been the top seller of Thomas Cook’s sports packages consistently for six years. What do you do to generate sales?
We have a pop-up stand at the Guernsey Race Day in May and tell people about sports events we can book. All the staff love it because it is a fun day out of the office.

We give out Pimms and we have flyers on events we sell, such as packages to go to the tennis at Wimbledon or the Six Nations rugby games. It sows the seed in people’s minds.

We do pre-registrations for events and get business in the few days following the race day. We also target sports clubs and suggest sports events for stag and hen parties, like Ladies Day at Ascot, or the Grand National. We introduce sport into the conversation.

Q: What are your best-selling sports packages?
A: Our biggest sellers are match breaks to Premier League games as we can offer guaranteed and official tickets. We see an increase in sales every year when the fixtures come through.

We always sell tickets with accommodation, and because we are on an island our clients tend to spend longer away than just a day, which is possibly why we do so well.

Q: Apparently you have resolved a few family disputes by selling a sports package with a holiday?
We get couples where the husband is a Manchester United fan, for example, and the couple has an argument between going to watch a game or going on holiday.

We can kill two birds with one stone if they are able to do an overseas trip from Manchester after the game. Or we suggest combining a holiday with a sports event.

One family wanted to go to Salou in Spain last year because the dad and the son wanted to go to watch Barcelona play. They went there for four nights and the girls did a shopping day while they went to the game, so everyone was happy.

Q: How did you manage to sell a sports package to a couple going on their honeymoon?
The couple had been away at Christmas and new year to Alexandra Palace, London, to see the World Darts Championship. They got engaged when they were there and came into the agency to tell us and ended up booking a five-day break to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Mauritius for their honeymoon in November.

They had decided they wanted to go to Mauritius. I asked if they liked the Grand Prix because Emirates flights went via Dubai. They hadn’t thought about it. It worked out perfectly; it’s something you would only do once.

Q: Are you fanatical about sports?
I’m a Celtic fan but I am not a die-hard supporter. I do like tennis and I did get up early to watch the Australian Open, and I like Formula One.

Q: Is the fact that your shop staff are mostly male linked to your success in selling sports packages?
A: We have five male staff, including me, and two female staff but they are not all into sport. I am usually the one to tell them about upcoming events, but they do all support football teams and you get a bit of banter.

I don’t know if that is why we do so well on sales of sports packages. About two years ago Thomas Cook Sport ran an incentive for the top 10 consultants in the company; we got number one and two. It’s unheard of to have two top sellers in the company in one shop.

Charlie’s CV

2007 to date: branch manager, Thomas Cook, Guernsey
2004-07: assistant manager, Thomas Cook, Guernsey
2001-04: sales consultant, Lunn Poly, Guernsey

Charlie’s sales tips

Talk about sport: Chat about what’s currently happening
Make clients aware: Promote them in your shop window
Gen up: Thomas Cook Sport sends out an email of upcoming events.