Fewer but larger-value, higher-commission bookings would be ideal, says  The Travel Snob, David Walker a homeworker for Not Just Travel based in Nottingham.

So, January has ended. Big sigh of relief? Yes. Reaching for the bottle to celebrate? Of course.

But no sooner have you popped the cork out than the phone rings again and an email pops up for another quote.

Then there’s February, when there’s still the odd TV ad, usually the sound of Jess Glynne and some talk about crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, and clients still have a sense of panic to get something booked, for November 2021 or something.

“We also have to deal with rebookings; with changing plans; and with people going to Singapore in October in a panic as cruises are cancelled.”

Finally, we have some time to flick through the offers and look for our own holidays but, of course, they’ve all gone. Then, just as things are going well and people are signing on the bottom line, along comes coronavirus.

As if wading through a pile of enquiries isn’t enough, we also have to deal with rebookings; with changing plans; and with people going to Singapore in October in a panic as cruises are cancelled, which means changing a booking with a three-night stopover in Singapore to a sailing direct to Sydney.

Changing plans

We have to deal with all these challenges, but we also need to make sure we’re getting new enquiries over the line. Usually, the enquiries at the top of my list are emails that start with ‘can you book the following’ from a client who doesn’t care about the price but knows you give great service.

Another favourite is when someone has found a holiday online with a supplier we have price parity with and has all the names and, of course, the price written down.

Those, and enquiries where they say we’ve been recommended in an initial email (that’s where the majority of my new business comes from). Oh, and if their budget is more than £15,000 – that always grabs my attention.

“The enquiries at the top of my list are emails that start with ‘can you book the following’ from a client who doesn’t care about the price.”

On the flip side, the enquiries that have a budget of £3,000 for four people to ‘anywhere hot’ from ‘anywhere in the UK’ are the ones that tend to receive a quick response of “call me to talk in more detail”…in the hope they never get back in touch.

This month, I’ve struggled with those great customers that have already booked but have questions that take further research…you know, booking tee times on the golf course, checking the maximum cabin bag size and if the hotel has gluten-free bread or caters for other food allergies. Then there are the schedule changes; the more you book, the more you get.

Prioritising work

There are so many things to keep us busy, and only so much you can pass on to your admin team. It’s at times like this I don’t know how those with a shop and all the unexpected walk-ins cope (I couldn’t have a shop – my poker face is too bad).

A busy start creates a busy year. I’ve had more than £500,000 worth of sales this year, so 2020 isn’t going to be quiet.

“It’s at busy times like this when you wonder what to prioritise, and whether you’d ever turn away bookings, regardless of the size.”

Like every year, I want to get fewer but larger-value, higher-commission bookings. I can never say no to the regulars who want their smaller holidays. But it’s at busy times like this when you wonder what to prioritise, and whether you’d ever turn away bookings, regardless of the size.


Fat-Duck-dinner
Pictured: Dinner at The Fat Duck

I love it when clients listen

After selling first-class Emirates flights, three nights at the Burj with Rolls-Royce transfers followed by 10 nights at the Six Senses Maldives, the client asks me to book him an airport hotel the night before the flight from Heathrow.

“You’re joking?” I say, “I’ll book you into a swanky hotel in Windsor, you can take your other half to The Fat Duck and I’ll arrange for the Emirates limo to pick you up in the morning… unless you’d really rather stay at the airport, have a burger and chips in the lobby and jump on the hopper bus?”

His response? “Fair point David, book us into the Windsor hotel.”

I love it when clients listen.