Share a bit of yourself in your customer messages and you can earn their trust and loyalty, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley.

Keeping in touch with clients, I feel, has always been one of the most important factors for the success of our business. I remember taking part in marketing training in the past when we were reminded of the importance of repeat business and recommendations.

We have always been fairly good at sending regular e-blasts and using social media to promote sales. I feel we have also been good at trying to not be impersonal and to be mindful to make sure our communications are not sales‑only. We like to share good news about the team as well as funny stories about pets, and I’ve always felt we’ve kept up to date with fun and current news.

Be honest

I have been so impressed with how many of my fellow travel business owners have kept in touch with their clients during Covid-19. I’ve seen some really awesome videos that owners and managing directors have compiled. They have been factual, clear and, in many instances, have included a bit of light-heartedness too. I’ve failed on the video contact, but have enjoyed writing personally to clients. And the feedback has been overwhelming.

I would encourage all of you to be honest with your clients. Tell them that things are difficult right now. Thank them for their patience and understanding. Explain how others are coping.

But then, why not add something more? We have so much personal knowledge from our years in travel, from our own experiences and indeed from what we have learnt from travel colleagues and clients.

“Tell clients that things are difficult right now. Thank them for their patience and understanding. Explain how others are coping.”

You could share funny stories, share your favourite travel book, explain when and where you are hoping to travel to next. Tell them how you are missing your loved ones, but always try to provide a light at the end of the tunnel.

Communication is not all about sales right now. It’s about trust.

I recently found myself telling my customers about a link I felt I had to Captain Tom Moore, the centenarian who’s just raised millions for the NHS. Ponders Travel celebrates 10 years on June 1 and we’d had a fabulous party planned. I told our clients that we will still celebrate and thank them, but it will be a year later than planned – what’s wrong with an 11‑year birthday party, anyway?

Earn trust

I also shared with them why I decided to call my business ‘Ponders’. It was all because of my love for my grandparents: Tom (my own Captain Tom) and Florrie Ponder. The name was a tribute to them, and it reminds me daily to be proud. Pride will get us through.

“With trust, clients know more about us and therefore feel more loyal and understanding that we are real people and not just a business.”

I am always overwhelmed when I write messages like this just how many clients respond. If I had sent a normal email, with sales and maybe videos and even suggestions, I would not have received anything like this level of personal emails.

It comes back to trust. With trust, clients know more about us and therefore feel more loyal and understanding that we are real people and not just a business.


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Client’s email was heartwarming

Having received so many lovely emails from my clients, I’d like to share one with you. This customer wrote: “I have just read your ‘note’ for the third time. I found it truly amazing and, like a good book, had to revisit it.

On the business side, your ‘note from the MD’ was very professional and informative. I am so sorry to hear you and your colleagues have had so much trouble. You are all caring people and like to give your best efforts to please people.”

I found it heartening. I hope it will give you encouragement that your clients understand what you are going through at this difficult time and appreciate the work you are doing.

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