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25 Sep 2015

BY Matthew Parsons

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TRFBLI

Richard Dixon: Don’t forget to sell customers the excitement

Did you catch Julia Lo Bue-Said’s column in TTG two weeks ago?

Opinion Richard Dixon 2

If not, then read it here.... Julia’s account of her two boys’ holiday transformation from “online” and “gadget” driven modern children to kids reunited with the simple joy of growing up revelling in the excitement of real-life experiences really struck a chord with me.

 

Working in the modern travel business, it is too easy to get lost in the profit and loss of day-to-day operations or the coldness of technology, while forgetting about the things that drove and inspired the trailblazing founders of our industry in the first place.

 

Exploration, education, discovery, understanding. Moments shared, memories created. I don’t care if you are selling Blackpool or Borneo – you have a responsibility to look beyond the bottom line to – as Julia said – “keep the magic of holidays alive”.

 

Perhaps right now I’m more than usually susceptible to the message because for the past few weeks, I’ve been a travel customer, planning my own trip of a lifetime to celebrate one of those rather large birthday milestones.

 

Images of Machu Picchu and the history of the Inca civilisation have always fascinated me, and now, with the help of the amazing team at Latin Routes, that’s exactly where I will be heading next June. All the way through the planning process, I’ve been constantly reminded of what it is to be a customer planning a holiday and how the excitement grows.

 

There was the initial “where the heck do I start” panic – there is so much to see and do. But the reassuring 1-2-1 conversation left me knowing my special holiday was in the right hands. I received itinerary suggestions to discuss with Mrs D over early evening drinks.

 

A few final tweaks and it’s booked. And now I have nine months of anticipation. This is all part of the holiday experience. It’s not a process. It’s emotion, it’s fun, it’s escapism. As a trade, we need to embrace this and never, ever take it for granted.

 

In the wee small hours of last Saturday morning, as suppliers mixed with Holidaysplease homeworkers and our annual conference drifted into the haze of the late bar, I ended up reflecting on another key ingredient of the travel business which, as agents, I think we are guilty of taking for granted: the good old travel rep. Often undervalued by people obsessed with spreadsheets, and used by agents primarily when we have a problem that needs sorting or a gasket to let off, these are some of the most committed and hardworking people in our business.

 

They cover huge territories, work evenings, weekends and bank holidays to help and support agents. So how about showing a bit of love in return? Just a little thought will mean a lot, so get thinking – agents, don’t ever take your travel reps for granted.

 

Like excited customers, they are integral to your future success.

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