A car saleswoman who has grown her business through PR stunts is opening a call centre travel agency where she hopes to repeat the trick.
LingsWings, which has joined Hays Travel Independence Group and received an Abta licence, is to live-stream its Gateshead office on YouTube while videos of plane crashes play in the background.
Owner Ling Valentine, a self-confessed extrovert, says she hopes acting “crazy” will drive traffic to the site and bookings will follow. She forecasts sales of £800,000 in the first year through the “Marmite” sales approach.
Ling, who set up a car-leasing business, LingsCars, in 2000, has converted a floor of its office for her new venture and plans to hire five agents within three years.
In 2008, she appeared on TV’s Dragon’s Den and turned down a £50,000 investment in LingsCars from dragons Duncan Bannatyne and Richard Farleigh, who offered her the cash for 30% of the firm, rather than the 5% she proposed.
She used a nuclear missile truck and yellow tank to advertise her car-leasing business. The company has sold to 9,000 customers and has a database of 50,000 names.
She hopes to grab holidaymakers’ attention with more stunts. The LingsWings logo is a rusty Dan-Air aircraft with a picture of Ling with her head in her hands on its tailfin.
“I can see why some people wouldn’t like the plane crashes in the background, but it’ll get them talking about us,” she said.
“We might do badges and T-shirts saying: ‘I flew with Ling and I’m still alive’. We want people to share [the website] with their friends. People who don’t like it can book somewhere else.”
Ling said the move into travel was because people don’t buy cars every year. “I’m still learning how the travel industry works,” she admitted, but said: “It’s just like cars. We find the best suppliers and give the best deals.”
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