Agent Diary: Create that positive buzz clients won’t get from a computer screen

Buying a new three-piece suite proved inspirational for how Hays Travel Gateshead branch manager Colin Burns serves customers 

It may be mid-January already, but it’s not too late to say Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

So here we are in the middle of our first “proper peaks” since before the pandemic and things are going well. At the start of the month, the team and I were discussing our action plans and the subject of online competition arose, so I set about finding ways to overcome this and even use it to our advantage.

The team and I were discussing our action plans and the subject of online competition arose, so I set about finding ways to overcome this

One such example came from an unlikely source. Mrs B and I had visitors over the Christmas holidays and one of them politely pointed out that our 1995 chintz three-piece suite was looking a bit tired and didn’t match the checked wallpaper, so we decided to invest in a replacement.

Sofa, so good

We visited a few furniture company websites and chose what we thought would be perfect. But just before ordering, we decided to visit a local branch to test out the comfort of the sofa ourselves and see the colour in real life.

We got chatting to one of the salespeople, who asked why we had chosen this range. He then began to talk us through other options that might work better in our space and, once we had agreed to his excellent suggestions, he went on to tell us the items were in the sale, which ended that day, so we signed the order.

That bit of expert human input left us feeling so much more confident that we had done the right thing

Although what we purchased was more expensive than what we had seen online, that bit of expert human input left us feeling so much more confident that we had done the right thing.

The experience prompted me to tell the team that any customer who contacted our branch was speaking to us for a reason and it was up to us to make sure they left having booked what was right for them, and with the assurance that we would look after them post-booking.

She had picked it purely on the per person price, but the resort did not match any of the family’s needs

We soon took a call from a customer who asked if we could price-match a holiday they had found on an operator’s site. I told her we would take a look, but then asked her what she wanted from her holiday and why she had chosen this one. She had picked it purely on the per person price, but the resort did not match any of the family’s needs.

After a little more searching I came up with a holiday that ticked all their boxes and, while the per person price was higher, there were two free child places, so the total cost was more than £1,000 less.

Selling add-ons

Of course, this won’t always be the case and some customers will have found the ideal holiday, so we may need to give away some profit to secure their bookings.

In these cases, we can look to book holiday insurance and trips to enhance the customer’s holiday experience and claw back some of that profit. After all, who goes to Iceland and doesn’t visit the Blue Lagoon or search for the northern lights? How many families go to Tenerife and don’t take the kids to Siam Park? You get my drift.

We can look to book holiday insurance and trips to enhance the customer’s holiday experience and claw back some of that profit

So, my team and I continue to work together, interacting and creating that positive buzz that you don’t get from a computer screen, and doing our best to make every enquiry count. And when it’s home time, I can sit on my worn-out sofa, counting down the 17 weeks until the delivery of our comfy new couch.


There’s no one like Grandma

We all have those momentary lapses in concentration that can lead to us saying the wrong thing to a customer or colleague, right?

So, Janelle was telling us about a time she had left messages with a customer to call her back and, after not receiving any replies, she realised she had accidentally given them her grandma’s home telephone number!

[Janelle] realised she had accidentally given [the customer] her grandma’s home telephone number!

Soon after telling us this story, Janelle took a call and had a short conversation to pay a holiday balance and she ended it with: “OK, thanks grandma, love you.”

We all thought it was such a coincidence that grandma had just rung, but it wasn’t, it was a customer! Oops.

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