Michael Bowers is ‘not the messiah’, he’s the national sales manager at Shearings and a big fan of Michael Palin.
Describe your typical week
It depends on the time of year. Some weeks I may only travel one or two days; others I can clock up more than 1,000 miles. But that could be an average week for some, so I’m not complaining, boss.
How big is your firm’s on-the-road sales team?
Three people look after the UK trade, plus dedicated marketing and web support. We also have a specialist department to look after the agents who use us for their group’s business.
What do you keep in the glove compartment?
Only the car’s logbook. I have a handy box with all my essentials and snacks strapped into the passenger seat so that they are close to hand. One source of amusement for my colleagues is my Dustbuster (right) – to keep on top of crumbs.
And what’s on the radio?
I switch between 5live, Radio 4 and Absolute, depending on my mood. I try not to listen to loud and fast music as it can make me drive fast, which isn’t good for the licence. I am currently re-acquainting myself with David Bowie’s back catalogue.
What snack keeps you going on the road?
Why do 99% of sandwiches have mayonnaise on? What’s that about? I tend to take food with me, but if I get caught short I find Greggs will make me a sandwich without mayo so they get my thumbs up. My coffee bill can be high if I’m out a lot.
What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done as part of a sales visit?
I have to do plenty of silly things at events and conferences. When visiting agents, I may test them by having them draw maps of the UK and locating key resorts in exchange for chocolate and pens, but that’s about as rock ‘n’ roll as it gets.
Who would be your ideal driving companion on a long journey?
Michael Palin. We could re-enact Monty Python sketches and talk travel. I watched Around the World in 80 Days again over Christmas – how things have changed since 1989. If my car had an ejector seat, I’d offer lifts to an endless series of Z-list celebs and reality “stars”.
If you were a car, what make would you be?
A vintage VW split-screen camper van with a Porsche engine conversion – otherwise I wouldn’t get anywhere on time. I could sleep in fantastic locations around the UK while working.
What’s the most lost you have ever been?
I went to one of Stewart Travel’s summer barbecues in Ayr a few years ago and opted to stay alcohol free and drive home, thinking the roads would be clear at night. Big mistake. My GPS showed a back country shortcut and then decided to lose its signal, leaving me on tiny B roads in the pitch black with no idea where I was going.
Where did you go on your last holiday?
It was a fly-drive around the Pacific Northwest; California, Oregon and Washington. I thought a holiday without driving long distances would give me withdrawal symptoms. I can’t enjoy holidays unless I am doing something.
Which agency gives you the warmest welcome?
Shearings is a popular brand, so I usually get a warm welcome anywhere I go. Drinks, of course, depend on how busy the agent is.
What key messages do you try to convey in an agent visit?
Shearings Holidays specialises in the 50-plus market and offers a wide range of escorted tours, resort holidays, and river cruises in the UK, Europe and beyond. I look at each agent to see which product could help them sell more holidays and I tailor a visit around that with relevant collateral. Where possible, I highlight the products that they may not be so familiar with.
What’s your advice for agents who don’t currently sell your product but are keen?
Get in touch with me or our sales support team. We are a nationwide company and have a wide range of holidays to the UK, Europe and beyond. The 50-plus market is huge, more than 20 million people – that’s a third of the population.