Travel Counsellors recorded more domestic holiday sales than international holidays sales one day last week – for the first time in the homeworking group’s history.
Chief executive Steve Byrne said the shift was because demand for the UK has “picked up”, and “not just because international, obviously, is suppressed”.
He said Travel Counsellor who have been focussed on domestic travel have built up the business “over a period of time” and that the company had worked hard to be in position to sell UK breaks with confidence.
“The starting point goes back to our business model, which is that we want to do the right thing by the customer,” said Byrne, speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast.
“We want to personally account manage the customer’s complete travel needs and if there’s an appetite for UK product, which there is, we want to be able to service that and provide it for customers.”
He added: “The less complexity there is in a holiday, the easier it is for the customer to book it directly – so it’s evidence of the power of the relationship that a Travel Counsellor has with their customer, and the wonderful stuff that they do for their customers, that customers are saying ‘I can book this myself, but I want to book it with you’.”
Byrne said the Travel Counsellors group, and individual agents, had been “really proactive” in providing customers with ideas about the sort of UK product currently available, adding: “There is some great product available in the UK”.
He revealed the company was using its own “geographical network” for agents to help each other sell domestic holidays.
“We have [Travel Counsellors] in all of the tourist hotspots, who can help fellow Travel Counsellors who are selling a UK break,” Byrne said. “Whether that be restaurant recommendations, local amenities, or whatever else is available to make the customer’s holiday better.
“We’ve enhanced the product, we’ve increased awareness of the product; we’ve promoted the product to inspire and get interested customers; and we’re enhancing what we can offer customers because we’ve got that local insight and knowledge through our through our network.”
He stressed that “care” was the one thing that could boost sales, regardless of whether an agent is selling a complex overseas trip or a domestic holiday.
“If you show the customer the same level of care and professionalism, and build that relationship, people will choose to book with you,” he said.
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