By Jayne Finn 

Depending on whether you see life as a glass half-empty or half-full, may well have influenced your reaction to the Chancellor’s proposed increases in Air Passenger Duty.

I too share the Industry’s “outrageous, ludicrous, scandalous” reaction to this huge injustice. How frustrating for those who have been lobbying Government, to find that their carefully crafted, reasoned arguments have been ignored.

However, from this potential crisis, isn’t there opportunity too? At the top level for the whole travel industry, both inbound and outbound, to unite in a campaign to have our Government follow the lead set by the Dutch to abolish this stealth tax? Perhaps out of this the industry will be stronger and gain the respect and recognition it rightfully deserves as an industry that already raises billions in revenue for the UK economy.

Meanwhile, what’s the opportunity right now for you?

If you haven’t already done so, may I suggest that you print or create a table that shows what passengers will have to pay in APD now, in November 2009 and November 2010? What better way to demonstrate to your potential customers that the cost of their holiday will most definitely not be cheaper if they wait a few months or defer spending on their holiday until next year?

If you are working in a call centre and experiencing fewer incoming calls or working in retail with fewer customers walking through the door, does this make you bored and depressed or do you see it as an opportunity to give the quality customer service that you never really had time for before?

People buy much more than the basic product or service. As every burglar alarm person knows, nobody buys a little red box to be screwed to their outside wall. They buy security, protection and, above all, peace of mind.

Here are just some of the ‘hidden extras’ that customers buy from you:

✓ A product or service that does what they expect it to;

✓ To have a problem replaced with a solution;

✓ Efficiency;

✓ Honesty and fair treatment;

✓ Attention to their individual needs;

✓ Courtesy and warmth in the away they are handled;

✓ To feel good about their contact with you;

✓ To feel that they matter to you;

✓ Reassurance and approval that they have made the right decision.

Making the most of every sales opportunity Do you have time to wander into Curry’s and waste the sales person’s time enquiring about washing machines when you have absolutely no intention of buying one? Probably not. So why, therefore, do you sometimes judge people who make enquiries about holidays as ‘timewasters’? The likelihood is that they will be buying a holiday, the uncertainty is whether or not it will be with you. So grab the opportunity and make sure it is with you. Perhaps due to the capacity cut backs you are already finding that customers’ first choices are not always available. This calls for super sales skills to sell an alternative which still meets all the customers fixed requirements. Maybe it is time to remind yourself of all the different open questions that you can ask to find out:

1. The type of customer;

2. Their main reasons for buying a holiday;

3. What is really important to them and what they don’t want; so that you can establish their fixed and flexible requirements.

It is pointless to try and persuade someone to change their date, if that is their most important fixed critieria. The same applies to price, departure time, airport destination, accommodation etc. Once you have identified their fixed and flexible criteria, then you can sell the benefits of the alternatives which match their flexible criteria. Maybe now you have time to really maximise the revenue opportunity from each and every sales opportunity. Even if ‘Passenger Heads’ are down, you can still increase your profit by selling extras. If you are a little rusty, brainstorm with colleagues and list all the extras that you have available to sell. Do look beyond Insurance, car hire, UK Airport Hotel & Parking. Chauffeur drives, private taxi, spa treatments, helicopter rides, swimming with dolphins, hot air balloon rides may be just the touch of luxury and escapism that your customer needs right now! When you have your comprehensive list, identify the main features and benefits of each extra, discuss how you could introduce and make them appealing to customers, and work out how much additional profit you could make if you each sold just one additional extra to every customer. It could be very compelling! If you think that you or your team need to hone your sales and customer service skills to be able to seize the opportunities that are out there, please email or call me for a free initial consultation. I’ll be delighted to help.

You can contact Jayne Finn of Qorus at or call 01865-321469. Sign up for TABS

twn Are you sure that you want to switch to desktop version?