When Lynne Woodward was made redundant, she decided to turn her dream of owning a travel agency into a reality. She got off to a good start: the first sale was a £100,000 cruise – and ended up with Lynne and a colleague singing on board the ship.
Q. Why did you set up a travel agency?
A. I was managing apprenticeships at Wirral Metropolitan College. My office was at the back of the college’s travel agency. I met the manager Ann (Roberts) and thought “I’d love to do that” but didn’t have any qualifications. I went to see Global Travel Group just before Christmas 2016, and they said it was helpful that I’d been on 64 cruises, had a degree in marketing and retail experience. After Christmas, I found out I’d been made redundant, so I got the ball rolling. We started trading in January 2018. We are on the high street but everything is by appointment. I asked Ann to join me as a travel consultant, but to all intents and purposes, she runs the business with me.
Q. How did you come up with the name Coddiwomple Travel?
A. . Ann found it. We wanted something different and memorable. Coddiwomple means “to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination”. We thought it was perfect.
Q. How did you bag a £100,000 booking as your first sale?
A. Ann and I are in the SingMe Merseyside choir. The choir had asked Ann about a trip to France, when she was working at the college. So when we set up, we offered the choir a couple of cruises. We had interest from 69 people for a three night mini cruise on P&O’s Aurora to Bruges’s Christmas market. We booked two coaches to take them to the cruise port. Then another two customers, not from the choir, said they’d like to go. So I booked another coach. I put a message on social media, and within three weeks, the third coach was full. In the end, we took 157 people.
Q. So you and Ann went too? How did you organise to sing on board?
A. Yes! Before we went, we took the choir leaders to meet P&O Cruises. They allowed us to sing on board. From the moment the passengers stepped on board, the trip was faultless. Ann worked tirelessly to sort this out. On the Sunday, we sang in the main theatre for an hour to a full auditorium. We also sang a couple of times in the Crow’s Nest bar, as well as in Bruges. We were then asked to lead the sailaway party on board.
Q. How’s business been since?
A. I can’t believe how busy it’s been. Eighty per cent of bookings are through word of mouth. I am learning every day – the education is better than in any other industry I have worked in. We’ll top our first booking with the next cruise for SingMe Merseyside, this time to Ghent on board P&O’s Ventura. We’ve already booked 180 people.
Q. What’s it like owning an agency?
A. Every day I come to work, I cannot believe I am doing my dream job. I never thought I’d have a career change at the age of 52.
Lynne’s sales tips
Find a community group you can work with
Believe in the products that you sell in your agency
Stand out by offering a higher level of service
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