‘I didn’t furlough anybody, and we want more staff’, the specialist cruise agency’s boss Dan Radnor tells Harry Kemble
Q. How did LoveitBookit start as a business?
A. I started the business in 2013 as a one-man band. I was new to the industry, having left university before the end of my course. About three years ago, I thought it was time to ‘turn it up’ and grow the business. We’re a lot bigger and better now. Previously, I was in a one-person office with no windows. Now there are 11 of us.
Q. How was lockdown for you and your business?
A. It has been the biggest challenge, and we’re not unique in this situation. I’m proud of how we handled it all. We had a daily team meeting the week before going into lockdown to make sure everyone was happy. We had done all the things everyone else had done – like multiple Zoom calls every day.
I’m super proud of how the team dealt with it all. We all worked together. The biggest challenge was going from a non-homeworking company to a full homeworking company. We are office-based and that’s what I like – the energy of us working all together. We had to transition to everyone becoming homeworkers, which was more of challenge than for other companies that are purely homeworking or 50:50 homeworking.
“The biggest challenge was going from a non-homeworking company to a full homeworking company. We are office-based and that’s what I like – the energy of us working all together.”
Q. What were the toughest moments during lockdown and your biggest achievements?
A. Because we are slightly smaller, it may have been slightly easier to do this, but we didn’t want to lose the focus on new sales. We wanted forward bookings. We never really closed down our sales operation whereas others possibly did. We separated the business into halves; one still focused on selling and the other focused on the whole situation that was going on. That was a massive achievement. We have done extremely well sales-wise during this period. We’ve gone above what anybody could have expected.
The focus is 2021 and 2022 sailings. We’ve not put any focus on 2020, really, but we haven’t hibernated, we faced the market hard. We’ve continued, and pushed forward, and that’s why we have done well. A lot of companies thought they would scale back or stop altogether. But we continued to create our presence in the marketplace. That, delivered with good customer service, has helped us grow. We’ve proven ourselves. We are on a few different TV channels and our TV show, which started three years ago, hasn’t stopped. We’re on a mix of channels – 5USA, Really and National Geographic.
“A lot of companies thought they would scale back or stop altogether. But we continued to create our presence in the marketplace. That, delivered with good customer service, has helped us grow.”
Q. How have customers responded during lockdown?
A. A big part of our strategy has been communication with disrupted customers. We’ve been able to manage that side of things a bit better because we’re a smaller team. I can imagine some of the larger companies have had a much bigger task to deal with. There are also people that are unhappy, but what’s helped ease problems is our communication. We’ve been proactive in communicating things as and when we can, and communicating options rather than waiting for customers to call us. We’ve been ahead of the curve, which has helped.
“A big part of our strategy has been communication with disrupted customers. We’ve been able to manage that side of things a bit better because we’re a smaller team.”
Q. Have you made any changes to business because of the pandemic?
A. We’ve put more resources behind the post-sales side of the business. I’ve got new staff for that but we’re recruiting for both sides of the business – reservations and sales. I didn’t furlough anybody, and we want more staff.
The company is at a natural progression point where we need more staff. We’re looking for up to four people, but it depends on the candidates. It’s exciting. We thought about it not too far into lockdown once things kind of settled down and everybody knew what was going on. There’s been a lot of panic in the industry, but once we settled down and got ourselves into a rhythm we decided we needed more staff – and as soon as we came back to the office in July it became much more apparent.
“Travel is a very passionate industry and people do it for the love. Hopefully, in a year or two, coronavirus will be a thing of the past.”
We’re looking for passionate people. Everybody in the team is extremely passionate for the company, and the industry. That’s something that needs to shine through. Obviously, you need experience and knowledge too. It is sad for other companies as they resize their businesses but we need to expand to grow.
Depending on the role, you could potentially join from outside the industry – especially for post-sales. Travel is a very passionate industry and people do it for the love. Hopefully, in a year or two, coronavirus will be a thing of the past. The industry is a strong one and every time something happens that rocks it, people pull through and things comes good again. You just have to have faith.
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