Agent Diary: ‘I am both excited and in a state of shock that we have chartered a luxury yacht’
I’m so excited to think our little agency is chartering a luxury ship to host clients on a cruise in Croatia, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley.
I have written on a few occasions over the years about how I find it hard to be brave and go for opportunities in business, as I am not sure if they will work or not.
I once shared with you that Star Clippers had approached me about escorting a trip on one of their cruises and how the idea had filled me with fear as I didn’t think anyone would want to come with me. Well, I am delighted to report that I was wrong – on Tuesday, 36 customers and I are off to Costa Rica.
Everyone at Star Clippers has been amazing and professional and made the process very streamlined
To be honest, I am still in shock that this is happening; I am excited and thrilled to be going on such an incredible journey with clients I like (I cherry-picked who I invited). This may seem like a huge thing to promote and manage, but I have to say everyone at Star Clippers has been amazing and professional and made the process very streamlined.
Eager to learn
In my last column, I mentioned how useful I found the Clia Conference, and here’s another example. One evening at the conference, I was sitting in the bar area on my own (I’d made the classic mistake of getting ready too early as I hadn’t read the itinerary properly) until Brad from APT joined me for a chat. I was honest and said we sold a bit of APT but not that much, and during our chat he offered to send someone to the shop for some training.
As soon as I had committed to the idea of Ponders’ first private yacht charter, we generated a real sense of excitement among customers and the team
During the session with Robin a few weeks later, we learnt lots about the product offering, and the Ponders team were really impressed with the Croatia Island Discovery cruise. Robin went into detail about Lady Eleganza and the fact that it can carry just 34 people, and the whole team had the same idea: wouldn’t it be great if we could fill this luxury yacht with the same group we’re taking to Costa Rica? I asked myself if we could do this and whether it would actually work and, with my new-found bravery – as well as encouragement from the team – I decided to go for it.
I was amazed to find that as soon as I had committed to the idea of Ponders’ first private yacht charter, we generated a real sense of excitement among customers and the team – and the excitement resulted in plenty of early booking interest. Bookings started coming in immediately after going on sale and in just 30 minutes we already had deposits paid for three cabins. After five days, we had sold 10 of the 18 cabins.
Dare to explore
I am not naïve. As I write this, I realise we still have eight cabins to sell. But we have not as yet told any of our other clients about the trip, so I am confident we will sell the remaining cabins very soon.
As a small-business owner, I am both excited and in a state of shock that we have a luxury yacht in the Adriatic lined up just for our clients in June next year. I feel like I have won the lottery – it feels genuinely surreal. Never in my dreams did I think that Ponders could achieve something so grand.
I am both excited and in a state of shock that we have a luxury yacht in the Adriatic lined up just for our clients in June next year
This experience has taught me that if you love an idea and think your clients will too, then you should dare to dream – dare to explore the opportunity to see if it could work and go for it. I’ll be sure to have a tale from my Costa Rica adventure in my next diary entry…
Our clients are friends too
We felt so special when we hosted a stand at the annual Destinations show in London in February. One of our lovely clients, who lives in London, invited our manager Millie and I for dinner at their home. We had a terrific evening, listening to their stories of worldwide travel and being spoilt with a lavish three course meal cooked especially for us. At the same time, Zoltan, our specialist travel consultant, was visiting a client who has now stopped travelling due to his age, and on the mantelpiece at this client’s home is a photo of Zoltan and his family, as they have formed a special bond over the years. What a caring team I have – I love the fact we are not just salespeople but friends to our clients too.
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