Agent Diary: ‘Sometimes customers just needs a little encouragement to book’

While the travel needs of our older, loyal customers may change, it’s important to support them, says Spear Travels Wolverhampton’s Kim Kent

Time goes by so quickly these days. It’s hard to believe it’s nearly Christmas – how did that happen? We are all so busy and the days seem to roll into each other. Then, you suddenly realise the weeks have disappeared.

This is all put into perspective when long-standing customers tell us that they are now at an age where they don’t want to travel the distances they once did, or that they struggle to pass through busy UK airports to go on holiday like they used to. This has been highlighted by the amount of airport assistance we have booked recently, indicating many are finding it more difficult to walk the required distances to the departure gate.

Offer alternatives

Recently, a few of our very loyal customers who would normally take several holidays a year, have said that due to mobility and other health issues, or simply just old age and lack of confidence, they simply can’t go abroad anymore. Although these customers are well travelled and have possibly visited all the places on their bucket lists over the years, in my eyes this does not mean their travelling days are over.

There are alternative options and experiences available, such as cruising from the UK, as well as European rail and coach travel. If they don’t want to go abroad, we can offer them luxury coach travel in the UK with door-to-door transfers.

Due to mobility and other health issues, or simply just old age and lack of confidence, [some customers] simply can’t go abroad anymore

These holidays are not going to fill the financial gap, but as valued customers I believe it’s better for them to have a holiday to look forward to, particularly when they have been used to going away every year.

We have mentioned the various alternative options to overseas travel to a few customers and have made several bookings. One of my customers has dementia and his wife didn’t feel confident to travel through the airports with him. With this in mind they have booked a cruise from Southampton, which they both feel they can cope with and are really looking forward to the experience. Sometimes the customer just needs a little encouragement from me to book.

Step aboard

Most people like to see what they are getting for their money, so I arranged for local coach company Johnsons to bring their luxury coach over from Henley-in-Arden to the shop for the day. We had it parked right outside the agency so people could have a look at this fabulous, spacious vehicle. We had a really good day and it created excitement in the village, with many of the locals keen to have a look.

Now they know what to expect if they choose a UK coach holiday. We made three bookings on the day and handed out many brochures.

I arranged for local coach company Johnsons to bring their luxury coach over from Henley-in-Arden to the shop for the day

Of course, we are constantly looking to grow our database and try to market our business as experts in all types of travel. We are fortunate that our existing customers recommend us to their friends and family. A tailor-made itinerary is much more difficult to put together online and this is where an experienced travel agent can help.

I have always said it’s about the service you give, the rapport you build with the customer and always being available to help with knowledge, expertise and ideas.

Kim Kent agent diary wins

Our conference was brilliant

It’s that time of year again when it feels like there’s one conference after the other, and I have to say ours was brilliant. It’s always great to catch up with colleagues from across the country who we rarely see in person, not to mention the company directors. This year there were many new faces following a recent acquisition, so it was great to meet them all. I also enjoyed being able thank our staff for their hard work throughout the year. They definitely loved dancing the night away as the wine flowed at the dinner party! The conference was held in Birmingham, where we were joined by our lovely suppliers who kindly supported the event.

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