Key Holidays and Destina Travel are ready to ramp up their touring and adventure knowledge with the help of TTG Travel Hero Sarah Weetman. TTG reports
Romiley, Greater Manchester
While coronavirus is currently impacting all travel, including the touring and adventure sector, Key Holidays’ director Jonathan Cunningham hopes that next year the touring sector will make a great comeback. “The touring market is a very exciting market for us and it’s something that [makes up] probably about 10-15% of what we do, but we’re looking at increasing this because obviously with an escorted tour, clients have got the security and so much choice,” he says.
The agency was recently visited by TTG Travel Hero Sarah Weetman, head of sales at Travelsphere, who came armed with advice for how to improve sales and market touring and adventure effectively.
Weetman also highlighted the pre-planned nature of an escorted tour, making it an appealing, fuss-free holiday option for Key Holidays’ many busy clients, many of whom don’t have much time to come in to the agency themselves.
“You used to have time to sit down with a husband and wife, or a wife and friend, and plan a trip around Australia but now it’s so difficult to arrange a time to get them together; you can’t get them face-to-face as an independent agent.” With this is mind he has been pleased to learn the level of detail and experiences covered in some escorted tours and that the groups (capped at 35) are smaller than he thought.
SOLOS, NOT SINGLES
One line of advice particularly sticks in Cunningham’s mind from Weetman’s visit. “She told us, ‘Never say singles, say solos, as singles takes on a different meaning’.”
Weetman pointed out that if something has a “singles” label, clients worry they’re signing up for enforced matchmaking.
Key Holidays has learnt first-hand that not all solo travellers are single anyway. “A prime example is a lady we book who goes away with her husband, but as he’s a big sports fan, every other year when there’s the World Cup or the Euros he sits and watches all the football and she goes away. We have done a Just You holiday or two for her. She’s done Madeira and a cruise.”
An afternoon tea for singles at a local deli is one of the marketing possibilities under consideration for targeting solos. “It’s about defining the database to invite the right folk,” says Cunningham.
Weetman is also helping with the agency’s plans to launch its own group tours next year, with the first for about 40 people due to be escorted by Cunningham and his wife. Key Holidays will now be overbranding a Travelsphere tour for this.
“It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind, but having had really good meetings with the heroes, it came to the front of my mind,” says Cunningham.
“We have a plan in motion for an escorted tour to Europe in 2021. Travelsphere can also really help us with getting it out to clients.”
Speaking to local groups is another area that the agency can ramp up. It already has 49 people from a club going on a Travelsphere trip next year and has identified others it can target, including from a local golf club it sponsors. Other advice from Weetman has covered leaflet and social media marketing and identifying best-selling touring destinations.
With the help of its mentors, the agency wants to be able to call itself a touring specialist. “When we [applied for help from the heroes] and I saw who the five heroes were, that’s what made me very excited,” says Cunningham.
“In the application when it asked what we thought our biggest threat was, I put ourselves because we haven’t got the time to work on marketing and putting things out to clients.”
Now, with the help of the travel heroes, the agency is building a plan. Cunningham says: “This is a very exciting thing that we’ve [earned] – this support. It’s just getting things in place in a schedule. It’s not all rocket science, it’s just good ideas. It’s a different level for us.”