Amongst the economic doom and gloom, there have been some positive and encouraging signs for the travel industry in recent weeks.  According to an ABTA survey, 68% of people are prepared to increase their holiday budget or spend the same as last year to ensure they have something to look forward to.  Almost half believe the break from routine and credit crunch pressures is a vital escape to maintain sanity!  ABTA predicts that the average spend in 2009 will be £632.04 per person.

Similar findings were reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers in their recent study.  When consumers were asked what their top spending priorities would be for 2009, large holidays came second out of fifteen choices.  UK consumers refuse to sacrifice the summer or family holiday and are more likely to forgo buying a new car, new furniture, and going to pubs, restaurants and theatres.

There are positive levels of bookings for 2009 being reported already for non- eurozone destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and South Africa. 

However, for many wannabe travellers, the recession is a still a looming threat and those with the highest level of debt, typically in the 25-34 age range are more likely to prioritise the repayment of that debt.  Higher income families still put holidays as a top priority. Retirees with the least debt and more time on their hands, will travel when convinced that what you are offering is excellent value for them. 

Whether you regard these findings as fantastic news or vaguely optimistic, one thing is certain and that is, this is no time for complacency.  You will have to work very hard to convince your customers that it is really in their best interests to buy from you, rather than your direct travel competitors, or all the other competing products and services tempting us to part with our cash.  The travel purchase is likely to be a more considered, deliberated and evaluated purchase than ever before.   

So that’s where you come in.  Your attitude and your product knowledge and your sales skills, will make or break the sale, beating your competirors to those precious ££££. 

A large travel agency group surveyed their past customers to find out why they had not re-booked with their agency.  Here is what they found: 

1%       Died

3%       Moved out of the area

5%       Moved to another agency when their sales consultant left

9%       Preferred a competitors product or service

14%      Weren’t travelling that year

68%      Went elsewhere because of the Staffs’ indifferent attitude! 

People really do “ Buy People First”. I was astonished to find this week, that with (I thought) a reasonable budget of £1500 per person for a 2 week summer holiday, that I was met with bored indifference.  When I asked for help in deciding between two properties, the snappy response was “Well, it depends what you wanna do!”  The sales person had to find out why she couldn’t book the flights for me and would call me back.  36 hours later I still haven’t had that call and plenty of time for me to book elsewhere. It’s time to shape up or ship out!   Many companies who fail to raise their game will perish amongst the recessionary pressure.  Harsh but true! Think about your own shopping experiences, what is it that really impresses and frustrates you as a customer.  Be honest with yourself, do you ever do the things that frustrate you, to your customers? Time to check yourself out! How often do you: 

  • Fail to return a call?
  • Put a smile in your voice and on your face as you greet your customer?
  • Sound annoyed when you answer a question?
  • Communicate a positive attitude?
  • Interrupt a customer when they are speaking?
  • Lapse into boring monotone?
  • Resentfully deal with customers because you are far too busy with admin?
  • Leave a caller on hold for more than 30 seconds?                                  
  • Abruptly deal with someone you believe is a timewaster?
  • Expect the customer to just give you a booking?

You have tremendous power and influence over whether or not the customer buys from you.  Your knowledge, skills and attitude will make or break the sale. Many companies are investing even more in training and development to ensure that their staff are able to: identify what the customer is most likely to buy; to sell the benefits of their most closely matched products; overcome any customer obejctions and to close sales before their competitors do, or the customer drifts back to the internet.  If you think that you or your team need to hone your sales and customer service skills to be ready to seize the opportunites that are out there, please email or call me for a free initial consultation. I’ll be delighted to help! 

Jayne Finn of Qorus specialises in HR consultancy, Training and Development.  Jayne can be contacted on: e: jayne@qorus.co.uk or T: 01865 321469

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