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Agent Diary: Never be afraid to remind customers of your invaluable experience

Some people are so blinkered about costs – we need to remind clients we can help them save money, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley.

I often read posts on Facebook travel pages about how annoying it is for agents when we have to listen to people bragging about how they got the cheapest price for their holiday or cruise.

Annoying is definitely the word, and I’ve heard some real corkers. In many cases I have to keep my cool and not butt into a conversation.

To demonstrate what I’m talking about, let me share a recent experience with you. Perhaps you’ve had a similar one?

False savings

I’ve just returned from escorting a small group of clients on a cruise around the UK. On this trip we met a couple who loudly shared that they “only book with the company that offers us the cheapest price”.

They added proudly that they do this for every trip, and will go with one company over another even if the saving is only £1.

Now, of course I appreciate the price you pay is important, but I found their lack of loyalty and brazen approach quite sad, as they have clearly never built up a relationship with any travel company.

And it is also rather blinkered. Despite the fact this couple clearly like to save money, they purchased all their shore excursions and transfers direct with the cruise line on board. Yet if they had booked through a knowledgeable travel agent, they would have been advised that there are excellent and more cost-effective excursions available through the trade.

Giving advice to a customer on the whole holiday using your own expertise and experience is invaluable

The funny thing is, any potential savings they might have made were cancelled out entirely when they paid almost double what we did in each port. For example, in Greenock they paid £109 each to take the cruise line’s transfer into Glasgow, which was only 13 miles away – even a private taxi would have only been about £20 in total.

This demonstrates that giving advice to a customer on the whole holiday using your own expertise and experience is invaluable. It can save them time and money and ensure they get to make the most of their holiday. Never be afraid to remind customers of things like this.

More importantly, don’t forget that if you sell the shore excursions yourself, you can earn more money. Some lines such as MSC pay us commission for excursion bookings, and it’s things like this that can help us bring added value to the client’s trip while ensuring we gain too.

Extra help

On the same cruise, I had a tricky situation with one couple. They had strict dietary needs, and on top of this were dealing with a recent dementia diagnosis. This meant they needed some extra hand-holding, which is something I love to do.

But sadly the clients got Covid six days into the 12-day cruise, and confinement to their cabin caused their anxiety levels to spiral.

I was so glad I was on board with them as it meant I could send a little something to their cabin to put smiles on their faces each day

I was so glad I was on board with them as it meant I could send a little something to their cabin to put smiles on their faces each day, whether it was strawberries, grapes, a newspaper or baguettes and cheese.

I also had to work out how they would get home after disembarking, but it was nice that I was able to do it all for them. This, for me, is another example of why people should book through an agent!


SHUTTERSTOCK flowers and chocolates

Flowers, chocs and kind words

The couple that had Covid left me worrying that they would be frustrated with Ponders, as they had quite an awful trip.

Hearing something like that from a customer means the absolute world to us!

But instead, they came into the shop when they were back on land full of thanks and gratitude – and bearing flowers and chocolates. To be honest, the best gift they gave us was this compliment: “Nothing could have changed our very first impression back in your garden office, which is that we feel very much part of the Ponders family.” You can probably imagine that hearing something like that from a customer means the absolute world to us!

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