We’re filling the time with quizzes, training and a few bookings while we await what I’m sure will be a rush, says Spear Travel’s Kim Kent.
It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was snowed under with bookings and the buzz of the office. It was a normal peaks, with us all under pressure to get holidays, tours and cruises booked for our customers.
I always love that time of year when we are so busy we don’t know which way to turn. How good it would be to have those times back.
“The news of the vaccine was amazing, and certainly has given our industry a future, but when is the benefit going to filter through?”
Instead, I find the highlight of my day is a walk along the canal or a trip to the supermarket! We were all looking towards 2021 with a positive view, thinking we could start to rebuild our businesses.
But now we find ourselves in an even worse position, one more depressing than the first lockdown. The news of the vaccine was amazing, and certainly has given our industry a future, but when is the benefit going to filter through?
I’ve always felt very positive that we will get through this and, with my team, we have put together an action plan for moving forward.
We’ve doubled our social media posts, uploaded a more varied selection of holidays and launched on Instagram. We’ve increased our followers and gained new customers along the way, some of whom have not used a travel agent before.
We have also held virtual holiday shows, which have been a great success and have given our customers fresh ideas. Seldom a week goes by that we don’t do a couple of bookings and, while it’s slow, the vibe is definitely that everyone is waiting for the travel corridors to open. I’m convinced we will see a rush once this happens.
“Seldom a week goes by that we don’t do a couple of bookings and, while it’s slow, the vibe is definitely that everyone is waiting for the travel corridors to open.”
We are focusing mainly on holidays for late 2021 and 2022. Last week, I booked three 2022 cruises. One of them was for a couple in their 80s who can’t wait to travel again (they’ve had their jabs).
There still seems to be a little resistance to booking for this spring and summer – understandably. But we hope to see a late-booking market that will bring in some instant and welcome cash as we approach the start of the season. Giving people the option to secure something to look forward to is positive and uplifting. I had an enquiry yesterday from a 79-year-old who asked for a cruise in 2023 to celebrate 60 years of marriage!
Another way I’ve spent my time is by chatting with customers who have future cruise credits to use, just to get a spin on their thoughts and offer advice if they are thinking of rebooking. As March approaches, and refund deadlines loom, it’s better to rebook if you can. I spoke to one couple who were adamant they would not travel and wanted a refund. Eventually I suggested dates in 2022 as there were some great deals, and they booked.
“Many tour operators are offering online courses and webinars, and with some you can even win prizes. It helps us to stay up to date with what’s new and refreshes our minds.”
Training is another way we are spending our time. Many tour operators are offering online courses and webinars, and with some you can even win prizes. It helps us to stay up to date with what’s new and refreshes our minds after being away from work for so long.
As a company we hold a quiz night once every two weeks. This time last year, I’d never have envisaged having the time, but it is something we all really look forward to.
I missed out on a Regent treat
Last week, I was contacted by a client interested in booking the Regent Seven Seas world cruise on Seven Seas Mariner for 2023. They wanted a Penthouse suite – you know, the ones that cost £90,000 per person! Needless to say, I happily contacted Regent to find out more, but to my horror was told those suites were sold out. Regent said that because this year’s world cruise had had to be cancelled, many clients booked instead for next year and 2023. The only thing available was a Deluxe Veranda Suite at £66,000 per person. I told my client this but they said that for five months at sea they wanted more space. So instead, they have paid a £500 fee to be put on a priority wait list. I am gutted.
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