Agent Diary: Independence Day offers a chance to sell our clients their American dream

Harness iconic sights and sounds to attract customers in to shops, says Hays Travel’s Colin Burns

Ooh, I like them shoes, how much are they?” “They’re one hundred and 20 grand, Col.”

“How much?!”

“Well, they are blue suede, Col.”

“So? I got my Showaddywaddy replica blue suede shoes for £24.99!”

“Yeah, but these are Elvis Presley’s shoes, Col. They’ve had his feet in them.”

“My Lord, so that’s £119,975 and a penny because they smell like Elvis’s feet – bargain…”

I saw on the news that his shoes were expected to sell at auction for £120k, a testament to the level of passion that still exists for the American music hero.

This might explain how, as an industry, we sell so many US holidays featuring Elvis and his music.

Of course, it’s not just Elvis. As our American cousins celebrate their Independence Day, I’m reminded of the iconic sights and sounds many customers could experience on July 4 – Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell or Washington DC, or anywhere with parades and fireworks.

Mind you, it still amazes me how some customers have no idea how big the US is and ask for their seven-night self-drive holiday to visit New York, Orlando, Dallas and Los Angeles. Then they don’t believe you when you tell them they’d spend the entire week in the car.

Nevertheless, there’s an opportunity for us to ride the July 4 hype and try to attract these customers to our shops.

New Apprentices

For Hays Travel, July also sees us welcome our new intake of apprentices. It’s an exciting and possibly nerve-wracking time for them as they begin what we hope are long, successful careers with us.

The preparation they’ve done to get onto the programme now needs to be matched by our teams in the shops and head office, all of which will have an apprentice, and the learning and development team who oversee their progress.

Apprentices can make a massive contribution, not just in fresh faces and ideas but also in the sales that they generate.

In Gateshead, Sophie smashed her apprentice sales target, qualified with a merit in her end‑point assessments and is now on track to achieve her increased sales consultant target.

Last year’s starter, Harvie, is studying hard and I’m sure will follow in Sophie’s shoes and enjoy great success.

Our latest recruit will join us soon and I have high hopes that with my guidance, support from my team and her learning coach, she will also become a great asset.

It may not work out for everyone, and some may decide that a career in travel isn’t for them. But the most important message I can give to those with apprentices is that you can make a real difference to their lives – so do everything possible to give them the best opportunity to be happy and successful.

Ooh! A notification has just popped up, advertising a genuine copy of a bootlace tie worn by Showaddywaddy’s front man Dave Bartram, while making the video for Pretty Little Angel Eyes in 1978. That’s worth a quid at least, so I’m off to place my bid.

Has logic left the building?

Speaking of Elvis Presley, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Talia from our Washington branch a few years ago.

“When did Elvis die, Col?”

“It was back in 1977, Talia.”

“Ah right, and how old was he?”

“He was only 42, Tals – why do you ask?”

At this point you could see the cogs turning in Talia’s head as she did the maths before coming out with one of the greatest Taliaisms ever:

“So if Elvis were still alive today, he’d probably be dead by now wouldn’t he?”

Please tell me that it’s not just me who can follow her logic on this one.

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