Company away days can be used to educate staff about destinations they sell or simply to say thank you for hard work
Shutting up shop and taking the whole team away for a company away day or weekend can offer myriad benefits for agency staff as well as for the business as a whole.
One agency that knows the benefits of such an experience is The Destination Lounge, which runs an annual trip over a long weekend near Christmas to get its three branches together.
“It’s a good team-building opportunity, especially as the three shops are spread across [Devon],” says Hayley Corkell, branch manager at the agency’s South Molton shop. “It’s a chance to reconnect face-to-face rather than just talking over email.”
Travel Zing in Edinburgh held its first ever company long weekend away in Benidorm last December, as both a reward for staff and a team building exercise. “The girls work hard all year, so I decided to take them away for three days,” says Laura Hibbert, owner of the agency. “We grew quite [dramatically] last year, and a new girl joined in October, so I wanted to help them all gel by getting away from the fast pace of day-to-day life.”
Greig Avinou, franchise director at Barrhead Travel in Falkirk, takes his staff away on an all-expenses-paid trip every year to say thank you for their hard work, which helped bring turnover up to £12 million for 2019.
“Past trips have included Tenerife in 2017 and a stay in Loch Lomond in 2018, while last December I took the team to the Hotel Fuerte Marbella,” he explains.
“In addition to a three-course meal with entertainment, we gave out awards for best sales people, as well as for personality of the year and best team player.
“We also rewarded three members of staff who have been with us for 10 years – one of them got a plane ticket to Australia so she could be with her brother on his birthday,” he adds. “This sort of reward and recognition helps motivate people, and they work so much harder when they feel valued.”
The opportunity to see a destination and everything it has to offer is an invaluable educational experience for staff, says The Destination Lounge’s Corkell.
“While we were in Lisbon last December for our retreat, we chatted to locals about the area and got their recommendations. It was a great chance to learn from a local person and then pass on that authentic experience to our clients.
“The other upside is being able to talk about the place with passion rather than just opening up a brochure and talking about a destination generically,” she adds.
There’s nothing better than being able to offer first-hand knowledge, agrees Hibbert, who used the Benidorm trip to help her team get to grips with the agency’s top-selling destination. “One of our staff members joined from Thomas Cook and had never flown with anyone but them, so it was a great chance to [experience] Jet2, which we sell a lot of. I also challenged the team to walk across the city and spot as many hotels as possible along the way.”
Customer confidence has increased since the company trip because all the staff now have first- hand knowledge of Benidorm, adds Hibbert. “Since we have returned we have seen a massive increase in customer confidence in the destination, airlift and activities. We are anticipating an uplift in sales and have already been able to move people into more expensive, and more relevant, properties,” she says.
The knowledge gained from last year’s trip has also translated into conversions for The Destination Lounge, which made two Lisbon bookings within weeks of returning.
“We took tons of photos while we were out there which we have shown to our customers – that makes a destination much easier to sell. Recently, I was able to book clients for six nights because I saw how much there is to do there and was able to recommend activities for an itinerary of this length.”
All three agencies have seen such success with their company trips, and they all plan to continue using them to motivate their staff.
Hibbert confirms that there will definitely be another at the end of the year, with the potential to make them more frequent. “We all bonded and got to know each other better. Day-to-day life can be hard, so you have to keep an eye on your staff’s wellbeing and mental health. Having this time together helps with finding out what makes them tick.”
Meanwhile, Avinou says he will continue to plan annual company trips with wow factor.
“This year, there is a possibility that we might consider a mini-cruise on a shorter itinerary. Whatever we end up doing, I’ve set the bar pretty high and I’ll 100% need to beat what we did last year!”