Comment: Knowledge will always be king

Comment: Knowledge will always be king

The best agents are those who become destination experts, says Andy Freeth, managing director of Travel 2

Kids and cabins don’t mix. In fact, I can’t think of an environment more restrictive for small children than an aircraft flight of more than 10 minutes.

I know the words to Frozen and there isn’t an episode of Thomas and Friends I haven’t watched. But when all forms of entertainment fail to engage, it’s tempting to ignore the fact that tying the kids to the aircraft seat is no longer considered an option.

My kids are fantastic but I am not above bribing them with sweets and toys to remain seated on an aircraft. However, these bribes, along with the great service onboard Air New Zealand, secured us a relatively trouble-free flight.

In for the long-haul

When it comes to both packing and travelling with the kids, it’s my wife, Kelly, who rules. I bow to her amazing ability to get all four of us to the other side of the world in one piece.

As you might have guessed, we’ve just been on a long-haul holiday, and when the initial issues of taking Holly (five) and Harry (two next week) on a long-haul flight faded, we found ourselves happily ensconced on New Zealand’s South Island.

Our first time in a campervan, we took to the road calling at Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Queenstown, Wanaka, Franz Josef, Nelson and everywhere in between. We ticked lots of boxes, from Shotover Jet boat rides and sheep-shearing to sampling wine in the Marlborough region. The kids loved the helicopter ride over the Franz Josef Glacier and sighting seals in Kaikoura.

I thought I was pretty clued up on the South Island from my research, and I had pitched myself as the family’s tour guide.

However, in reality, I knew very little. This got me thinking about the importance of really getting under the skin of a destination.

Personal touch

We know the best agents are increasingly the ones who become destination experts. They get to know the product inside and out and can offer trusted, personalised and valuable insight to their customers.

I also know that most of us can’t just pop on an aircraft and spend six months getting to know a place. Who hasn’t tried to convince the boss that they need a month on full pay in the Caribbean to, you know, “really help secure those deals”.

Realistically, though, opportunities for agents to travel are becoming few and far between. But that doesn’t mean we can either compromise on engaging with the products we are selling or fail to keep up to date with all the information and training.

At Travel 2, we continually update our training programme – The T2 Academy. We are great believers in helping develop agents’ knowledge to improve sales. Nearly 4,500 agents have signed up and taken more than 80,000 modules between them. And with more than 250 fam trip places on offer this year, we hope to ensure as many agents as possible see destinations first-hand.

So, here’s to brushing up on our knowledge ahead of the summer season. If anyone is interested in some extra pointers, I have a slideshow of about 500 shots of the family holiday to New Zealand on my iPad that I can show you.

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