The best place I’ve ever been? Frankly, it rather depends on what the customer’s like, says David Walker aka The Travel Snob, a homeworker for Not Just Travel based in Nottingham.
We’ve all been there, when we meet new people and they ask what you do. Their immediate response when you tell them you’re a travel agent is always “where’s the best place you’ve been?”
I’ve been to 133 countries and I have a top five: New Zealand, Madagascar, Lebanon, Peru and Honduras.
However, how many of us are honest when we give our answer? Or, do we look at the person, gather as much information about them by looking and figure out where we think they’d prefer?
Let’s be honest, think about how many people you meet that think they are really adventurous asking for two weeks’ self-catering in Corfu. Would they be impressed with any of my top five?
Not to stereotype but…
Now let’s be clear, there’s no stereotyping here at all (the last thing I’d want to do is offend anyone). And yet…
If I’m talking to a woman with quaffed hair, false nails, fake tan, copy designer handbag and shades, then I’m likely to say my favourite place is Dubai and tell her all about it (although she’s probably been).
If I’m talking to someone in a loud fake Burberry or Ralph Lauren polo shirt, fake cap, three-quarter-length trousers, gladiator sandals and socks, with a bulldog tattoo on his arm and a Union Jack on his calf, then my favourite place turns to the time I went to Cyprus on an all-inclusive.
And when I’m deep in conversation with a family that has just jumped out of a Volvo, with mum wearing gym gear, dad in new trainers, tight jeans and a fitted shirt, and the kids fresh from an after-school sports club, then obviously the best trip I ever did was taking my nieces to Sardinia at Forte Village.
Then again, when the little old couple ask that very same question, I talk enthusiastically about the P&O cruise we did around the fjords (for which my genuine enthusiasm still surprises me).
For the mid-40s gay couple with plenty of spend, I tell them all about my experience in the US Virgin Islands at the best boutique hotel in the Caribbean, gay-owned and absolutely fabulous (to be fair, this would be sixth on my list).
The vegetarian/vegan Greenpeace campaigner hears me reminisce about my time in Borneo and how we did some amazing conservation work for the orangutans and how I get regular updates on all the orangutans we sponsored when we were there.
And I tell the family wearing real designer clothing with real designer handbags and real suntans that the time we spent at Sandy Lane in Barbados, in a villa between Simon Cowell and Cliff Richards, was one of the best times I’ve ever had.
I have done all the above (including Cyprus). Knowing about each of them, as a travel agent, has come in handy, so I can connect with potential customers in the hope they will book their next trip with me.
As you can see, my ‘best place’ can vary. Does yours?
This week’s best booking
Other than saving a few cents rebooking Thomas Cook holidays, this week’s best booking has to be the customer who simply did as she was told. Having wooed her into a £12k Kuala Lumpur, Borneo and Singapore trip for three weeks, I then casually reminded her that she’d recently tasted Emirates Business Class and suggested how she would hate to be back in Economy – especially all that way. So a tidy £18k booking soon followed for the three of them. If only it were that easy every time.
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