Managing director, global travel management, woking
Scott Pawley’s travel management company scooped this year’s Advantage Travel Partnership corporate member of the year award. The business travel agency takes a ‘back to basics’ approach to give staff an edge on product knowledge and service
Q: Where did your career start?
A: I left school at 16. As far as I was concerned, it was sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. But my father said I had to get something sorted out, so I went to a career’s adviser! They said I should be an estate agent, work in an electrical shop or be a travel agent. I didn’t want to be an estate agent and I couldn’t wire a plug, so I applied to be a travel agent. I didn’t want to do it but now I am in it, I love it. My first job was at Rusu Travel at the University of Reading, funded by the student’s union. I would sit there all day with my afro and shiny suit, selling rail and bus tickets.
Q: Why do you think you won the 2015 Advantage Travel Partnership corporate member of the year award?
A: Unlike some of the bigger names in the business, we like to see airlines. We encourage airlines to come in to see us. Our guys want to know about the product, so we ask them to do workshops about their seats and fares. We find if we see them face to face, we learn the product better, remember it and are more likely to sell it. If an airline goes up in our [sales] rankings, we will ask them to come in. The guys here love it – any excuse for a doughnut!
Q: You encourage your 36 staff to talk to clients and suppliers rather than conducting all business via email. How does that work in your favour?
A: When something isn’t right or a client needs you, we say ‘let’s pick up the phone’. We talk it through and learn more about the traveller. If it takes half an hour, it takes half an hour. I want to hear laughter and chatter on the phones; that’s why clients will come back to us. If we got too big as a business, we would lose that. We also try to encourage new clients to come to our office to see how we work. All our new business is from referrals.
Q: How did the business start and how has it grown?
A: My dad thought it would be easy to do. My wife Natalie and I were in our twenties, and we all set it up. My father’s part was financial; he had nothing to do with the day-to-day business. I saw a gap in the market for an independent agency to develop clients’ travel policies. We didn’t make any money, but it was fantastic, as we had no pressure. As soon as we made a profit, then the pressure started. We bought Stanmore Travel in Watford this year and are slowly rebranding it. It gave us the opportunity to get into the exhibitions market.
Q: What’s next – further acquisitions?
A: We have got our feelers out but we are not going to jump in and buy more and more. It’s got to be the right opportunity and something that already works in the way we would work.
1997 to date: founder, Global Travel Management, Woking. Opened office in Dubai in 2012, and bought Global Travel Jet in 2014 and Stanmore Travel in 2015
1992-97: section supervisor, Fleet Street Travel, Chertsey1990-92: sales consultant, Pickfords Travel, Bracknell
1987-90: sales consultant, Rusu Travel, University of Reading
Scott’s sales tips
*Invest in a good agency business intelligence tool: I use Agentivity.
*Know your customer base: analyse data to get a ‘true’ picture of your clients.
*Upsell, upsell, upsell: identify missed opportunities prior to travel and turn these into sales opportunities.
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