Shutting up shop for the festive period has never affected sales and sets you up for peaks, says Thompson Travel owner Sharon Thompson

I have travelled all year, been to a lot of places and seen plenty of airports, but I do love being at home for Christmas.

Maybe it’s because I have kids, although they are grown up, but for me it’s a time for family and friends. There’s nothing quite like getting on your Christmas PJs, lighting the fire, enjoying opening your presents with your family and having mince pies and chocolate for breakfast (it has to be done!).

I don’t even like turkey, but the stuffing and ham get me right in the mood for Christmas dinner.

I even look forward to the anticipation of the stupid and pointless gifts and jokes in the Christmas crackers. And what a tradition they are. Crackers were invented by Tom Smith back in the 1840s as a way to boost sales of his bon-bon sweets. Now there’s a simple idea to diversify!

Post-Christmas breaks

However, sending customers abroad for Christmas has never been a huge part of my business. Maybe I don’t promote it as much as I should do because I can’t imagine going away on holiday for Christmas myself.

I tend to focus on the post-Christmas getaways and, by then, I’m too fat for a bikini so the thought of spending New Year in New York or somewhere with a snowy setting seems like a lovely scene to me.

“The thought of spending New Year in New York or somewhere with a snowy setting seems like a lovely scene to me.”

I remember having an amazing cruise with Royal Caribbean on Allure of the Seas pre-Christmas one year. It was really special when the calypso bands greeted us in Sint Maarten with a performance of Christmas carols. Poinsettia lined the promenade on deck five and it certainly had me in the Christmas spirit – it was perfect.

The added bonus was that I was able to do my Christmas shopping when the pound was strong against the dollar – I saved a lot that year. So maybe that’s my thing – taking advantage of the pre-Christmas prices and fitting in a bit of Christmas shopping too.

“It was really special when the calypso bands greeted us in Sint Maarten with a performance of Christmas carols.”

I do often wonder if Christmas prices need to be so high, though. Do operators increase costs because of supply and demand? Or do they merely take advantage of those who don’t care about the festive season and just want to get away? New Year is even more expensive, but we all seem to celebrate that.

Refresh time

I’m sure many of you could tell me all about the advantages of going away at Christmas – avoiding all the superficial rubbish, and the kids who demand more, are probably more than enough good reason.

But to me, it’s the celebration of a gift, and whether that’s material stuff or just time, it’s your own personal way of seeing things.

“December has started well and all it takes are a few high-value bookings to make the Christmas holidays seem much more appealing.”

Christmas should also be a time we think of others, especially those cabin crew, health staff, restaurant owners and the like who don’t get a choice about whether they work or not. Why not reflect on your year and try to think about new ideas for the coming year.

For now, though, it’s down time, chill time, refresh time, wine time – whatever you prefer – with those who are important, wherever you are in the world! Happy Christmas to you and yours.


Santa-alarm-clock

Closed for Christmas

We spent a few days in November trying to encourage those bookings before the
January rush, and it certainly paid off – we smashed our November target.

December has started well and all it takes are a few high-value bookings to make the Christmas holidays seem much more appealing. Gift vouchers are proving a big hit for my customers.

I must say a huge thank you to my staff for their hard work this year. We’ll be closing from December 24 until January 2 as usual. It’s never affected our sales, and it certainly sets us up so we’re ready to go for January after some time with family and a refresh.