Lois Nippard has a knack of getting clients excited about going travelling.
But the STA Travel consultant, this month’s Travel Weekly Cover Star, is also well-versed in calming down clients when the unexpected happens.
On both counts, she only has to draw on her own travel experiences, which include two round-the-world trips and numerous long-haul trips as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic.
“There is always a solution to any horrible travel situation,” she says.
One experience that stands out was during a nine-hour bus journey back from her favourite destination of El Nido on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
“The bus stopped and we all got off. I left my backpack and guitar on board while I went to the toilet, but when I came back the bus had gone.”
The only Westerner on the bus, Lois started to panic. “In the end I bought a cool drink and sat on the steps to think about what to do,” she says.
A few minutes later, the bus reappeared. “The bus driver told me it was a good thing I looked different to him or he would not have realised I wasn’t on the bus!”
Being able to strike a balance between her passion for travel and offering the right tips on safety and insurance is particularly important for Lois as many of her clients are aged from 18 to their mid-30s and booking their first long-haul trip.
“Customers often come with their parents and you can have nine people staring at you while you sort out their holiday of a lifetime,” she says.
Not that this phases Lois, who at any one time is dealing with up to 100 clients pre, post and during travel, some of whom are nervous about travelling alone for the first time.
“I was 18 when I first travelled alone to Asia. I spent the first few days wondering what I’d done, but then I met a guy who I travelled with for two weeks. That’s the nice thing about going on your own – you make lots of friends.”
Lois on the cover of Travel Weekly's July 7 issue
Lois's top tips
Call customers just before they travel to check they have the necessary paperwork.
Give clients ideas on how to improve their trip with activities such as bungee jumping.
When young clients are booking, develop a relationship with their parents to alleviate any concerns they might have.
Compile a ‘backpack’ list of what to take on their trip. “I always tell clients to take gaffer tape so if anything breaks, like their bag, they can fix it,” says Lois.
Tell clients some basic ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for different countries. Do have plenty of small change, but don’t drink more than one glass of rice wine in Laos because it’s so strong!
2004: Six-month round-the-world trip
2005: Worked in sales for a home insurance company
2006-2009: Cabin crew, Virgin Atlantic
2009-2010: Went travelling to Burma, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
2010 to date: Travel consultant for STA Travel in Victoria, London
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