That was the message from retail guru Clare Bailey (nee Rayner) to delegates.
Bailey said businesses must look to “put the customer at the heart of everything they do” and create an “obsessive view” of clients’ needs in order to forge long-term sales channels with customers, their family and friends.
The business coach and author talked about a range of small independent companies which she believed adopted this ethos and explained how travel businesses could learn from them.
One example cited by Bailey was Manchester-based women’s clothing boutique 25 Ten which boasts a number of Coronation Street and Hollyoaks actresses among its clientele.
Bailey said its founder Kelly Turner had used social media to befriend her customers, which showed a “brilliant way of creating one-to-one time” with them.
“Kelly uses the store’s Facebook page which has 12,500 ‘likes’, to post the latest celebrity fashion looks and this allows her to showcase how her clothes could make her customers look like a star.
“She offers fashion advice and really treats her customers like a friend and because she’s learnt their tastes, when new items come in to stock, she knows who to recommend them to.”
Bailey told delegates she believed travel businesses possessed the same passion for their field and could offer similar advice to customers.
“In travel you have the same love for your product and when you’re putting a tour together I imagine you can picture the customers you know who will be going on it.
“If you share that enthusiasm with the customer then they get caught up in it and will want to buy.”