After 30 years as a travel agent it still amazes me how adaptable you need to be in this job – weatherman, counsellor, handyman… and for me in the past 10 years, regular BBC Radio Leeds (and sometimes TV) guest.
It all started when I got a call from the station – local to us in Bradford, West Yorkshire – after a recommendation from another travel agency.
That Sunday, I got mic’d up and, with butterflies in my tummy, gave Radio Leeds listeners a run-down of popular destinations to visit in 2009. The rest, as they say, is history!
“There’s no such thing as bad press” is what they told me as I was stood on Leeds/Liverpool canal in a pair of Mickey Mouse armbands. “It will make it visual” is what they said when I was challenged to eat an extra-hot Mexican breakfast without water.
It’s great working with presenters on a variety of different shows because it brings you a diverse collection of new customers. The question-and-answer formatted broadcasts give you a fantastic insight into what concerns the general public have about travel, plus it opens up opportunities to share the latest trends and fly the flag for booking on the high street with your local independent travel agent.
The exposure has led to more clients travelling from near and far to book holidays with us. I like to think it’s because I sound professional, but the “oh, you don’t look like you sound on the radio” and “gosh, you look older than you sound” comments keep my feet firmly on the ground.
And it gets really exciting when TV crews come and film in the shop. It’s fab getting the team involved, as Idle Travel really is about them. It’s a great way to show off the agency and, of course, being a Yorkshireman means that if it’s free, I’ll have two!
The point I’m trying to make is – never turn down any opportunity to shout about your business.
Sometimes you’ll be completely out of your comfort zone, and other times you’ll have to think on your feet.
But the credibility your agency will receive is priceless, making it all worthwhile.
I’ll leave you with this anecdote: I thought I’d made the big time when a call came in from a major TV channel explaining they were filming in Bradford and asking whether I would be available for filming the following week. Finally, it was the start of my dazzling TV career, or so I believed.
Asking excitedly which TV programme was going to make me famous, I quickly plopped back down to earth when they informed me it was an episode of Embarrassing Bodies.
Maybe I do have the perfect face for radio, after all.
Tony Mann is director of Idle Travel
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