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Agent Diary: ‘Every time I make a booking I ring a bell – there’s been a lot of bell-ringing recently!’

I ring a bell every time I make a booking and am pleased to say it’s been chiming a lot recently, says Carla Hutchings, Luxury Travel Associate at Swords Travel in Bournemouth.

My partner handed me a retro brass bell recently and suggested that “every time you make a booking you should ring the bell”.

It has become very popular in the last couple of months, because there has been a lot of bell-ringing!

It all started as a bit of a joke. Then one day I rang the bell four times as I made four bookings (and I didn’t leave my home office because I was glued to the seat – with refreshments being brought to me every time I rang the bell).

“Now every time Mark Swords confirms a booking from the shop, he rings me (on the phone) to ring my bell!”

It amused me so much that I started talking about this on our weekly Teams call with the Swords Travel Associates.

Now (and you’ve probably guessed it…) every time Mark Swords confirms a booking from the shop, he rings me (on the phone) to ring my bell! It’s kept our spirits high, but I think Mark is extremely jealous and wants his own bell!

Bookings upturn

So what have I been busy booking? Lots of families and couples looking for last-minute getaways to Greece and the Canary Islands.

October half-term has been extremely busy in terms of interest and I’ve booked some amazing luxury family offers through some great suppliers we work with.

“It’s so reassuring working with suppliers that really do look after their travel agent partners, unlike some airlines and tour operators which are prepared to undercut us.”

This week has all been about easyJet holidays. The operator’s ‘Trade Exclusive Promo’ has managed to secure lots of business for all of us at Swords Travel.

It’s so reassuring working with suppliers that really do look after their travel agent partners, unlike some airlines and tour operators which are prepared to undercut us by hundreds even when we have done all the research for the customer and found them the holiday. I won’t mention names, but one of these starts with a B and ends in an a A!

Ski dream

Now that summer is all but over, the question we’re asking ourselves is ‘what’s next?’. Well, it’s the time of year where I can get excited about the snow! I’ve already been super-busy with ski enquiries and also Lapland trips. It’s great that Canada is now on the green list, and has opened up to British visitors. It’s my dream to go skiing there.

When it comes to skiing, there are so many things to think about.

Over the last few weeks, I have been introduced to Club Med and I have to say that, for families, they are amazing.

“I’ve already been super-busy with ski enquiries and also Lapland trips. It’s great that Canada is now on the green list, and has opened up to British visitors.”

It’s brilliant that they include lift passes and lessons as well as being all-inclusive (which is handy for the après-ski drinks).

What I think is brilliant about their brand is their trade portal where they have amazing cheat sheets you can use when talking to your customers. You can sound like a ski specialist when you really aren’t!

Fantastic night

But before the ski season, the most important thing in the short term is, of course, this week’s Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards. After 18 months of waiting for a big travel industry awards event, I know it’s going to be a fantastic night!

“But before the ski season, the most important thing in the short term is, of course, this week’s Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards.”

I can’t wait to see so many faces in the travel industry and have a drink or two, and big thanks to Classic Collection who kindly invited me. See you all there!


Carla agent diary

Coasting at work

When I say you can book holidays from anywhere, you really can! Last week, I had a tough decision to make. As you may recall, there was a bit of a heatwave and it was very hot and sunny on the south coast, but I had lots of enquiries to do – so I made a compromise: the laptop came with me to my beach hut, I did a hotspot for Wi-Fi, and it worked a treat! It inspired me to make a list of the most interesting or unusual places at which I have made bookings. So far, it’s a run-off between my beach hut and as a passenger in a car on the M6 motorway. Either way, it’s lovely to get away from the desk sometimes.

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