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Agent Diary: ‘January was the busiest I’ve been in a while’

It’s not been a usual peaks but it feels good to be under pressure again, says The Travel Snob, David Walker, a homeworker for Not Just Travel based in Nottingham.

So, January has been and gone and I’m sure, for many of us, it wasn’t quite the peaks we’re used to.

For me it was certainly the busiest I’ve been in a while, and by far my best month since Covid started. And boy did it feel good to be under pressure again, with plenty to get over the line.

Many things have changed over the past 11 months, but I will be continuing with some of our new initiatives when things return to ‘normal’. Zoom calls with clients, particularly new ones, have been invaluable; and including suppliers on some of the calls has really helped get extra buy-in from them. When suppliers are introduced to clients, they make sure everything goes well during the journey – even more than usual.

Best booking value

For me, January was all about bucket lists. Since late November, I’ve been promoting trips for which I knew we could provide quotes for 2022, and in some cases even 2023, and not one client has found a better price online. You can’t go to BA.com for 2022 pricing, and Skyscanner won’t even let you type in 2023.

I’ve had my highest-ever average booking value in a month since I started. And, with the majority of them for 2022, I’m confident they will actually travel.

There have still been many clients ringing for advice on their holiday for October, wondering if it will go ahead – but I’m still not quite ready to predict the future.

“Since late November, I’ve been promoting trips for which I knew we could provide quotes for 2022, and in some cases even 2023.”

I’ve had lots of emails wishing me well, phone calls starting with ‘how have you coped?’, and numerous gifts (mainly alcoholic) from clients as a ‘thinking of you’ pick-me-up. They know me so well.

I’ve decided to only be positive in my response. I’ve not put any posts on Facebook saying how bad it has been for the industry, either. I am, of course, all about saving the travel industry. But I don’t think it’s the best idea to give my clients any indication that it’s been quite such a tough 11 months.

Explaining how many forward bookings I have been doing, and that I have never had such a full order book, as it were, has been my approach. It means the conversation tends to turn to my clients’ holidays.

Desperate to travel

Some are so desperate to go away that, if their holiday has been cancelled, they ask us to keep hold of the money so they can book immediately when things reopen. Those clients have kept me eager for more. The anticipation of a rush of last-minute bookings not only means hopefully guaranteed departures, but also instant commissions.

On the other side of the coin, however, some of the clients who say they wish for our success and continued trading, with the next breath, go and cancel their trip. Talk about a double-edged sword.

“The anticipation of a rush of last-minute bookings not only means hopefully guaranteed departures, but also instant commissions.”

This peaks has been a time to show our clients, especially those that have us on speed dial, how much value we can offer. Getting refunds to them quicker than we tell them (a sure way to manage expectations), and just being in constant communication, will help to keep them coming back.

If nothing else, it’s been our time to shine, to prove that it’s way better to book a trip with us than online.


SHUTTERSTOCK-ski

Come on, Boris, give us a date

A date for the restart of travel is still up in the air, and it’s causing so much reluctance to book right now. And when clients run through their questions, you can understand why. Some ask if they’ll need a vaccine to travel; others ask if they’ll need to add on 10 nights in an airport hotel on their return.

Some certainty would also give clients the confidence to book not just one holiday but others too, be it a summer holiday, half-term break or a little New Year ski trip. After all, they have lots of holiday money saved, having not booked last year or having received lovely refunds from us. So Boris, if you’re listening, it would be amazing if you could give us a travel restart date.

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