Tony Chant, a Surrey-based travel consultant, has seen consistent sales since he launched his business. But this year bookings have really taken off. We asked him to share how he’s succeeded.
It all began with a visit to a franchise exhibition.
Tony had never worked in travel before.
In fact, when he visited the 2016 International Franchise Show at London’s ExCeL he had never considered buying a travel franchise. He simply strolled into a presentation at our stand and was so impressed at the opportunities he signed up.
If you too are considering becoming a travel consultant with no former experience in the travel industry, Tony’s tips for success may help you come to a decision:
1/ You don’t need previous experience working in travel and you don’t need a huge list of contacts to start selling holidays
When you join, a major part of your ongoing training is about finding and keeping customers.
With travel experts on hand and the most business development support ratio to franchisees in the industry, you’ll never feel alone.
Although of course, that doesn’t mean everything is done for you. Tony’s success is down to his own hard work. He explains that, to begin with, you simply need to get out there and start talking about travel.
“I ran a marketing business in the healthcare sector for 15 years and had no experience in travel other than I spent a lot of time overseas with my job.
It was a big leap.
As I didn’t have many contacts in the UK, I had to build that list very quickly. It requires doing as much networking as you can in person and online within the local community, business groups and Facebook.”
As Tony explains, big bookings can come from anywhere…
“My latest big booking came through the church. I had never considered it as somewhere to network but as with any community it’s all about trust… and recommendations. As word spread, more people enquired which resulted in several other bookings.”
2/ You don’t need to be an expert in every destination and type of holiday.
Even if you are an experienced traveller, you can’t expect to become an expert overnight in the world’s largest industry.
That’s why you’ll have direct access to travel suppliers who can help you get the most out of their products for your customers.
As Tony told us:
“I’ve travelled extensively and sometimes I book the entire trip myself without any assistance. But occasionally, I’m essentially a broker, relying on the expertise of a travel supplier (a partner of Not Just Travel) who can plan the entire itinerary.”
It also helps to have that expertise on hand if you’re booking something a little out of the ordinary – like a luxury safari.
“My latest booking was a trip of a lifetime for a three-generation family to go on a luxury tented safari to Tanzania followed by a week on the beach in Zanzibar, but I have never been on a safari in Africa. As always, I was open and honest about this with the client.
They know I am tailor-making the trip with the help of specialists, but I am their personal travel consultant and take full responsibility for all the booking arrangements.
You’re not just booking a holiday, but a complete customer experience journey.”
Depending on your franchise type, you’ll also have access to marketing materials that you can use to show prospective customers that you’ve got the kind of holidays you want.
One example is an extensive library of website pages you can use for different destinations or holiday types.
3/ You will have to work hard, but the training and support is always there for you
Tony’s grown his business through discipline, hard work and a real focus on the customer experience. He explains that it’s not like making a change to another normal job.
“This is not a nine-to-five job. You’re working from home, often alone, so you have to be disciplined, organised and productive.”
Tony also explained that there’s constant support available so that those times at home mean you’re never really alone.
“When you are not selling a holiday or networking, there’s also lots of training that’s run by Not Just Travel and its partner travel companies that supply the holidays. Both are really helpful.”
And Tony also notes that he doesn’t have a boss – just training and support that’s there for him to use as he needs it.
“Not Just Travel is really committed to training and supporting people. Think of it like an a la carte menu. You can pick and choose what you want, whenever you have time to fit it in.”
Perhaps Tony’s biggest tip is that it really is all about the customer.
As a new travel consultant, you don’t want to get a customer and have them book one holiday. They should have such a great experience they want to book all their future holidays with you – as well as tell all their friends about you.
Tony certainly embodies that attitude.
“Taking the booking isn’t the end of the work. I always follow up to find out if it met the customer’s expectations. What can I do to make them feel that they would like to book with me again?”