A luxury travel agency is using WhatsApp to take the majority of its bookings.
Alex Lavender, managing director of Seven Icons, has booked holidays worth as much as £50,000 following conversations with clients on the instant messaging service.
The agency has high-net-worth clients on its books and says many prefer to communicate via WhatsApp than by phone or email, and do not require detailed itineraries in advance of booking.
Clients include England internationals Ollie Watkins, Sam Johnstone and James Tarkowski, reality TV stars Billie and Samantha Faiers, TV and radio presenter Maya Jama and singer Myleene Klass.
Lavender, who set up Seven Icons in 2019 after working in football sponsorship and ticketing, said: “The majority of business is on referral and comes through WhatsApp and Instagram. I don’t use Facebook. We’ve never spent a penny on marketing.
“Many agents will use detailed briefs and itinerary builders but I’ve not found we’ve needed to. Everyone wants to know they’re being looked after and getting a good price; it’s all about trust. Bookings can be done in 15 minutes on text.”
The agency will regularly quote for bookings of £10,000 or more on WhatsApp, according to Lavender.
He said: “I booked a holiday including private jets for a footballer and his fiancée, with accommodation at one of Europe’s top resorts, for £50,000. We ended up speaking on the phone but most conversations were on WhatsApp.”
In some cases, the entire sales process will be via WhatsApp apart from the final invoice email.
He admitted: “Ordinarily I’d end up speaking to the client and send an official email confirmation, but there is a percentage of bookings completely on WhatsApp. There are clients I’ve never spoken to on the phone, only on WhatsApp.”
Clients who have thanked the company for its service on Instagram or in the national media have helped fuel further sales.
Lavender said: “I get messages from 5am to 11pm, but I always reply.
“If you’ve not got your travel advisor on WhatsApp what’s the point of having a travel advisor?”