As we wait for DJ Boris to press the ‘Play’ button for travel’s restart, there are still sales to be had, says Hays Travel Washington branch manager Colin Burns.
I was talking to my daughter the other day about music streaming and saying how great it is to be able to listen to any tune wherever and whenever you want.
The conversation soon turned to me explaining how I used to have to record the charts from the radio on a Sunday teatime. I told her how I’d sit with my tape recorder, one finger on the pause button and another hovering over the record and play button, shaking with anticipation as I waited for the DJ to announce a track I wanted to capture, ready to go as soon as he said the word Showaddywaddy!
It made me think how our industry is in a similar predicament now. We are well and truly on ‘Pause’, waiting nervously for DJ Boris to announce something we really want to hear so we can hit the ‘Play’ button.
In the meantime, we continue to look for any opportunities to stimulate the market and grab whatever business we can.
“Speaking to a solo traveller in her 80s recently, she told me she went to Malta every year and was devastated she had not been able to go in 2020, and possibly not in 2021 either.”
And there is business to be had. Speaking to a solo traveller in her 80s recently, she told me she went to Malta every year and was devastated she had not been able to go in 2020, and possibly not in 2021 either. After a good chat, I booked her favourite hotel for spring 2022 and she was so happy that she now had something to look forward to and to keep her spirits up.
Spreading the cost
I’ve written before about how useful reduced and even nil deposits have been. Some commentators have said this lack of financial commitment from the customer could make any decision to cancel much easier. The best way to overcome this is to also offer a payment plan. So far in February, around 66% of the bookings I’ve made have included a direct debit plan.
This helps us in a few ways. After a couple of payments, customers feel they have a larger ‘investment’, while from our point of view, there is the obvious cashflow benefit as it gives us a regular income.
“After a couple of payments, customers feel they have a larger ‘investment’, while from our point of view, there is the obvious cashflow benefit as it gives us a regular income.”
There is an affordability angle as well. I’m finding customers will pay more when they see how little per month the difference is. One customer recently gave me their wish list and a budget of £2,000. I found several options but none had all they wanted. Another option did have it all, but it was £400 overbudget. “No, that’s too much,” they protested. “Look at it this way,” I said. “On the direct debit, it’s £20 a month – one takeaway a month less and you get the holiday you really want.” “You know what, Col, you’re right,” they said, and booked.
There are those looking to trade up too. A friend, who usually books to Spain or Greece in fairly average accommodation, called to ask about a cruise. He usually spends about £1,500 yet has just booked 14 nights on [P&O Cruises’] Azura with a balcony and spent over £5,000.
“So while our finger may still be on that Pause button, let’s keep the other one ready to press Play as soon as DJ Boris starts the track we all want to hear.”
And it’s not just cruising. Long-haul destinations like the Maldives, Bali and safaris are selling well too.
So while our finger may still be on that Pause button, despite encouraging news this week, let’s keep the other one ready to press Play as soon as DJ Boris starts the track we all want to hear. Who knows, we could all soon be making bookings Under the Moon of Love!
My photo helped snap up a sale
Up here in the northeast, we rarely get to see a big cruise ship, but at the moment we are lucky enough to have P&O’s Azura berthed on the Tyne.
“The cruise-seeking customer I mentioned earlier said he had only ever been on a ferry before, and he imagined that was what a cruise ship would be like.”
And its presence – coupled with my snap-happy fingers – helped me secure a booking. The cruise-seeking customer I mentioned earlier said he had only ever been on a ferry before, and he imagined that was what a cruise ship would be like. So, I took a picture of Azura and the DFDS vessel docked beside it, and sent it to him. Of course, both ships are excellent at their own jobs, but the comparison really did provide a big clue as to what he could expect on a cruise ship. It just shows how bringing a little first-hand knowledge to life really is invaluable in our job.