Following Full Circle’s Fresh Thinking Award win in TTG’s Top 50 Travel Agencies, owner Niall Douglas speaks to Abra Dunsby about its cutting-edge initiatives.
Oxfordshire-based independent agency Full Circle is not one to rest on its laurels when it comes to attracting business, with owner Niall Douglas currently juggling an office move and a website redesign.
The agency, which won the Fresh Thinking Award at this month’s TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies ceremony, has pushed forward its use of technology to expand and upgrade the service it offers its clients.
“My aim is to try to be as up-to-date as possible, as technology means you can have information at your fingertips,” explains Douglas. “Teaming that ethos with good old-fashioned customer service is what’s key for me.”
A prime example is the agency’s new website, which will include a clever new way of appealing to customers’ individual needs when it launches in the next six months.
“We’ve found that we’ll get a web enquiry through where clients have only given us travel dates and the destination they want to visit,” says Douglas.
“When we go back and ask for more information, such as what style of hotel they want, they won’t reply. With online enquiries, clients just want speed and a quick quote, and often they don’t have a more detailed idea of what they are looking for.”
The agency’s creative solution to this is a mood board, which will pop up on the website after clients submit an online enquiry, using images of art, furniture, pools and food to establish what type of hotel clients would prefer.
“We’ll then be able to send a relevant quote without actually speaking to them as we’ll have an idea of what the client’s tastes are, and we’ll know what hotels to include or rule out,” says Douglas.
“The next step is hopefully speaking to the clients and gradually building a deeper understanding of exactly what they want. It’s also a way of keeping clients’ interest piqued. Wording and tick boxes won’t work, but this is a visual concept and a bit of fun.”
Douglas says clients will be asked to fill out five or six mood boards, each made up of half a dozen images, and taking seconds to fill out. Clients can also opt out of filling it in entirely, if they wish.
A programme called Travefy, which helps the agency to create smart-looking quotes, is also helping Full Circle to enhance the customer experience.
The online quoting system allows the agency to add activities, accommodation, flights, transportation and cruises onto bookings very quickly.
The programme includes a database of saved places, so that airports, hotels or restaurants can be added easily, and information can be reused or edited as content is stored, making it even easier to create itineraries a second time around.
Full Circle agents also use the programme’s visual function, which allows them to create galleries of hotels including up to five images. The database also has in-built flights and cruise itineraries, and agents can add extras such as maps.
“The quote can then be sent via a mobile-friendly link, or exported to a PDF which can be printed off or sent as an attachment,” explains Douglas. “It also looks beautiful and is personalised to our agency.”
He says clients can then communicate with agents via the Travefy app, offering feedback on the itinerary and any aspects they’d like to be changed.
The agency started using the system, which costs $16 a month, in November.
“The feedback from clients has been really good,” says Douglas. “They’ve been really impressed with how slick it looks. And from our perspective, it’s very quick to get a quote out.”
Another added benefit is that agents can see when a client has viewed an itinerary. “It means we can keep track of our follow-ups more easily,” Douglas explains.
Using Travefy has also helped transform enquiries into bookings, with a rise in conversions of more than 25% since they started using the programme.
“The conversions have been great. It’s been a big boost for us,” says Douglas.
With the office move imminent, Douglas says there’ll be plenty more bright ideas in the months to come – proof that fresh thinking comes naturally to this agency.