Q&A | Michelle Barker | Europe/UK
With its wide variety of experiences, and large VFR market, a European or UK holiday should be an easy sell for agents. Michelle Barker, managing director of Jayes Travel, Newcastle shares her tips for selling the destination.
How well do Europe and the UK sell at your agency?
Europe and the UK are a large part of our annual sales, especially new bookings coming through the earlybird season. It’s important for us to capitalise on the enquiries during the launch/sale periods so that we have those forward sales in place for the upcoming year.
Which forms of travel are especially popular?
For our agency it is a real split, from independent self-drive or rail holidays, to river/ocean cruising and escorted tours. We would love to increase our coach touring sales, and so this has become a focus for our agency. Last year saw a turn towards rail and FIT holidays, so we want to highlight how the traditional coach tour has evolved over the past few years with many focusing on local experiences that people won’t find on an FIT holiday.
Is the decline of the Australia dollar having an impact on sales?
At this stage we aren’t seeing a negative impact on sales, or seeing clients compromise on the standards or length of their holiday. We are actually seeing people book more before they travel and locking in tours at the AUD rate, protecting themselves against any further falls. Many touring companies are offering 2016 travel at 2015 prices, people can secure the main components of their holiday at the same rate when the dollar was much higher.
Is there enough training from NTOs for agents selling Europe and the UK?
There is always room for more training but I understand it’s hard to roll this out to agents. As part of the recent Qantas Holidays ‘Race Around’ famil in the UK, we had the opportunity to take part in training sessions with the tourist boards of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. I picked up more tips in these sessions than selling the destinations for years.
What advice would you give to other agents in selling Europe and the UK?
Make sure you have the local tips and know the unique products that will make the holiday memorable. First hand experience of a country or style of travel through Europe and the UK will improve your sales beyond a doubt.