Giving a speech is a chance to tell your audience about the many hats we travel agents have to wear, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley.
I consider being invited to give a talk to a group of people as a very positive thing. It gives you the chance to market your business in a unique way and I have always enjoyed doing them.
While they may not always lead to instant results, at Ponders we find the bookings do come in eventually after we have showcased our public-speaking skills.
I was asked to talk about Australia, so I prepared all weekend only to find the gentleman sat next to me owned and operated a farm in Perth!
The first one I ever did was to a Probus Club, a senior gentleman’s group comprising retired business professionals. I was 23 years old at the time and had never delivered a talk to a group before, but being the positive person I am I just went for it.
However, there were a few bumps in the road. I was asked to talk about Australia, so I prepared all weekend, then sat down to join the group for lunch before the talk, only to find the gentleman sat next to me owned and operated a farm in Perth! He knew more about Australia than I did and ever will.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, some of these dear old gentlemen fell asleep while I was delivering my speech! To this day, I like to think it was the lunch and wine that sent them to sleep, rather than my oration.
I often joke about this tricky debut when I start my talks and offer sweets to the audience to give them the energy to stay awake. I tell them it wouldn’t be good for my ego if I sent more people into a snooze…
The most common subject matter I am asked to talk about these days is why people should book through a travel agent. I don’t need to explain that to you, but I thought I would share a fun little element I have started including in my speeches.
Have you ever taken a step back and looked at exactly what [your] role involves? The truth is, we are much more than just travel agents
I tell the audience about what it means to be a travel agent. Indeed, have you ever taken a step back and looked at exactly what the role involves? The truth is, we are much more than just travel agents.
Collectively, we also take on the roles of wedding planners, event planners, visa enquiry advisors, Foreign Office experts and meteorologists – I know what the weather will be like in Cambodia this November off the top of my head!
But wait, there’s more. We are also IT experts, when people ask us if their mobiles will work while they are away or if they need a different sim card. And we’re a general advice bureau, with people asking about issues that have nothing to do with the holiday, and insurance brokers and admin specialists…
We also take on the roles of wedding planners, event planners, visa enquiry advisors, Foreign Office experts and meteorologists
Oh, and let’s not forget we are also airport guides, makeshift historians for basically every destination on the planet, and even counsellors: we all provide shoulders to cry on for our clients when things don’t go according to plan.
But I doubt many others can claim to have also been a dentist. On one escorted trip a very dear elderly client looked at me one night and said: “Clare, I have a problem – I’ve lost my teeth!” Next thing I know, I’m helping this 92-year-old find his teeth in his cabin. You’ll be pleased to hear I managed to eventually locate them under his pillow and helped him pop them back in!
On one escorted trip a very dear elderly client looked at me one night and said: “Clare, I have a problem – I’ve lost my teeth!”
So the next time you present a talk, it might be worth highlighting that we are much, much more than just travel agents.
Going the extras miles
In my last article I wrote about shore excursions and how as a team at Ponders we are aiming to try to sell more ancillary products to every customer. This week, we surpassed ourselves with a couple of groups and have generated more than £6,000 of sales with day trips, excursions and other bookings – all with good commission.
We are thrilled that our efforts to try to develop each sale is paying off. It just goes to show the value of thinking outside the box a little when it comes to processing a customer’s booking. The extra profit is vital and our customers are happy with the additions too, so everyone is a winner.