Think outside the box for better sales

NEIL BARCLAY
head of sales
Viking Cruises

Neil_Barclay

‘I’m looking for a week in a nice hotel in Austria, some sightseeing, good food, great service. Do you have any ideas?’
‘Ever thought about a river cruise?’

That’s how my best agents spot an opportunity and manage to sell as much as they do. It’s all about thinking outside of the box, recognising the right kind of customer and offering them the chance to do the same. Cruising might be something they hadn’t even considered before, but something that nonetheless ticks all their boxes in terms of what they are looking for in a holiday.

And lots more besides.

Quality staterooms with fabulous, ever-changing views, great food (and lots of it), inspiring on board talks and performances, a different town every day and pretty much everything included in the price. It’s like a series of city breaks all rolled into one, but without the constant budgeting and packing and unpacking usually involved.

 

River cruising could be the answer to many clients’ search for a holiday that puts stylish accommodation, good food, great scenery and sightseeing at the top of their agenda. They look to agents to provide different ideas and more interesting alternatives to the standard hotel and flights package, and that’s exactly what cruising does.

It also gives agents the chance to earn top commission and potentially gain a client for life – once a cruiser, always a cruiser is often the case, and with so many different destinations and itineraries available agents never need run out of ideas. It’s a win, win situation.
Travel is all I wanted to do when I started out on my Lunn Poly YTS course, on £29.50 per week, in 1989. I was so excited, but back then river cruising didn’t even enter the equation.

My first booking was with Cypriana, three weeks for the price of two in Limassol for a Mr & Mrs Richardson. I made the grand total of £79.80 in commission for the agency, but if you don’t believe me you can ask Keith Galloway (my first boss) now at Bryton Travel in Edinburgh… he’ll tell you.
Thankfully times have changed, along with commission rates, people’s expectations, choice of destinations and range of experiences. Oh, and salaries, I’m happy to say.

Whenever I think about booking initiatives or training I always put myself in the shoes of the agent. What do I need to help me clinch the sale? Great marketing? Great commission? A dedicated trade website? An on the road sales team? An easy sell?

A company with all the tools to help me sell more and earn more? A cuddly toy? In an ideal world you need all these together to create the perfect storm.

That was the basis for developing our madefortrade.co.uk campaign which gives agents everything they need in one place and a great platform for ongoing communication that can be adapted to a continually developing climate.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is my advice: think outside the box.

That client that always looks for the city break, or the nice hotel in a lakes an mountains resort, or even Mr & Mrs Richardson that booked for a three-week holiday in Limassol 25 years ago, might just be ready for a river cruise.

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