Agents need to be proactive with their clients to take advantage of "pent-up" demand, says Wendy Wu’s John Warr.
Warr told TTG’s acting features editor Abra Dunsby that being “proactive and flexible” were vital for the trade in the current climate, during the latest of TTG’s series of Face to Face online interviews - watch the full interview.
“I believe there’s pent-up business out there. Agents need to be open and be ready to take that business. Don’t just wait for customers to come to you, reach out to them,” said Warr, who is global sales director for Wendy Wu Tours.
“Where customers asked for their money back, contact that customer to see where they are in their booking cycle now that they have their money back.
“We’re seeing more and more enquiries coming through from agents as they have opened up."
Warr also urged other tour operators to start bringing back business development managers (BDMs) now that high street agencies have started to reopen.
Wendy Wu has already brought back one BDM from furlough and hopes to reinstate more as bookings recover.
“At the moment we have one BDM back, we’re just testing the water. It sends a strong message to trade - it creates a sense of energy and a buzz,” added Warr. “The response has been very, very positive.
“We will take it step by step and look at where the market is. We want to cover the whole country - one BDM can’t do that on their own.
“We would like to see more operators bring more BDMs back - agents need that now. The industry needs to be more proactive and more positive.”
Warr said that around 60% of customers had chosen to rebook their cancelled trips for new departures in 2021, and the operator has also brought in £1 million in new sales over the past few weeks.
Wendy Wu will be launching its next set of brochures in September and October, with September usually one of its key booking months.
“Numbers are encouraging and they are growing. We will learn more about consumer behaviour as we go through July, August and September,” said Warr.
He added the majority of bookings were for departures in the middle or latter part of 2021 as this period was seen as a “safer bet” by consumers.
While Wendy Wu is still taking bookings for China, Warr said Japan was seeing “huge demand”, especially for the cherry blossom season in March 2021.
Vietnam and Thailand have both been benefiting from having very low Covid-19 death rates.
The operator has also seen the number of solo travellers grow as a proportion of its client base – they have been encouraged by many tours not charging a single supplement as well as business class flight offers.
Warr also reiterated the importance of working with the trade for Wendy Wu Tours.
“The trade is very important to us,” he said. “You will never see us undercut an agent either on the website or directly with the customer. We will do whatever it takes to support our trade partners.”