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Agent Diary: ‘Travelling myself has made me feel much more confident giving help and advice’

Travelling abroad has given me the confidence to help and advise my own customers, but the public constantly mistake travel agencies for information centres, says Spear Travel’s Kim Kent.

I have been very fortunate to have travelled abroad twice recently.

The first trip was on holiday to Lanzarote, using the seats I booked last year with Ryanair, although they charged me £280 to change these even though we were not allowed to travel at the time of the original booking.

“Some customers have found the PLF very confusing and difficult to complete, even after I have talked them through it.”

Having received so many questions about travel requirements from my customers, it was good to actually experience this for myself. I now feel much more confident giving help and advice to them.

While I appreciate travel is different now, some customers have found the PLF very confusing and difficult to complete, even after I have talked them through it. I have to say I found it to be very straightforward. For Spain, the QR code came through immediately and I just had to show this together with my vaccination certificate.

PLF form master

The resort in Lanzarote was busy, with most shops, bars and restaurants open for business. Wearing a face mask in public places is mandatory. Everyone complied and we felt very safe.

Returning to the UK, we completed the PLF and entered the reference number of the day-two test we had booked. We must have had six to eight emails from Ryanair reminding us of the requirements, so we couldn’t say we didn’t know. It’s a constant reminder to check and double-check you have everything.

“It became clear that some passengers had not completed a PLF and, more worryingly, did not even know they had to complete a form for entry to the UK.”

Standing in the queue on our return, we could see a commotion at the desk. When we got to the front, it became clear that some passengers had not completed a PLF and, more worryingly, did not even know they had to complete a form for entry to the UK.

I offered to help a couple in their 30s who said they had not had any emails from Ryanair, which sounded strange as they had booked the day-two test and had the reference number to complete the form. I told them what to do and which website to go to, and they were very grateful.

Fam trip fillip

The second trip was an educational to Corfu, with Classic Collection Holidays. I was so lucky to have been chosen to go and it felt great to be travelling with other agents.

We have all been through the worst time, so it was lovely to feel normal again and share experiences with the lovely ladies on my trip.

We were hosted by the MarBella Collection of hotels and stayed in the MarBella Corfu, which is a lovely five-star property ideal for families, with plenty of facilities. Next door is the Marbella Nido for couples and honeymooners, which is very quiet and intimate.

“Being away from your colleagues and friends over lockdown really makes you appreciate having them back again.”

The hotel manager treated us to a speedboat transfer across to the MarBella Elix hotel in Sivota.

This fantastic new five-star hotel only has rooms with a sea view and is situated on a hillside overlooking a beautiful sandy beach. It too is very much for families but has a quality feel to it.

Being away from your colleagues and friends over lockdown really makes you appreciate having them back again. There’s nothing like the buzz in the office, not to mention how great it is to be able to bounce ideas around, share experiences of fam trips, ask questions and just have a laugh.


Information point SHUTTERSTOCK

Overstepping the mark

Now the government changes have kicked in and travel requirements are being relaxed, we are getting a huge number of calls from people asking us to talk them through the vaccine, testing and paperwork needed for their destination.

“I understand many people think of travel agencies as information centres, but when one chap asked for it all in writing, it was a bit much.”

We are happy to do this for our customers, but the majority of calls have been from people who have not booked here. I understand many people think of travel agencies as information centres, but when one chap asked for it all in writing, it was a bit much.

Of course, I refused, and explained that the rules are changing all the time so it was better that he double-check.

Sadly, he then got aggressive, but we’re not a charity.

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