Moving from surviving to thriving with your sales team

Moving from surviving to thriving with your sales team Listing Image

‘Tourism Industry Faces $1 Trillion Loss, 100 million Jobs At Risk From Covid-19’ – Forbes, Aug 2020 

This Forbes headline was taken from the findings of a UN report in August 2020 and serves as a stark reminder of the frightening reality that was facing those of us in the travel industry less than three years ago. 

The fear amongst industry colleagues and friends back then was not just sparked by the prospect of mass redundancies but by the end of our industry as we knew it. Thriving wasn’t an option; it was survival mode all the way. For our friends and family who never worked in the travel industry, it was often difficult to understand why we cared about it so much.

Salaries generally fall below their other-industry equivalents, and there are few customers as demanding as those paying a chunk of money for a dream holiday. During the pandemic, it was an especially challenging place to work. With no bookings coming in and clients demanding refunds from cash reservoirs that were rapidly drying up - the pressure on businesses and staff was unprecedented. 

Now that we’re on the other side, what has changed? Is the industry as beloved by its employees as it once was? That remains to be seen as employee priorities shift. Travel has always been competitive, but with a chance to hit the reset button and replenish those cash reserves, that notoriously competitive edge is sharper than ever. 

In this new competition-high, cash-poor environment, it would be tempting for businesses to move away from service-led sales towards a high-volume, low-labour model. This could take various forms, anything from encouraging your formerly service-led sales staff to spend less time with each client to transitioning towards an OTA business style, with chatbots doing most of the customer-service heavy lifting. This kind of survival mode may take the pressure off cash flow short term, but is this a sustainable approach?


Customer confidence 

It’s not just travel businesses that have changed. Travel clients have too. When the pandemic struck, many DIY customers found themselves stranded overseas, struggling to get home. Refunds for future trips were delayed - many never arrived at all, and customers found themselves with little recourse in the aftermath. The first ‘brave new world’ travellers attempting a DIY-style holiday found themselves bamboozled by new airline cancellation rules and complex country entry requirements. 

As a result, travellers are now less confident booking their own trips online. More customers than ever seek the security and knowledge that only a trusted travel agent or tour operator can provide. ABTA’s latest report, Travel in 2022, found that people are now 30% more likely to book with a travel agent than before the pandemic. That’s a significant increase – now is not the time for travel businesses to fall asleep at the wheel when it comes to service and customer care.


Surviving versus thriving 

We predict that the businesses that provide value in the form of expertise and client care will be the ones that thrive in a post-pandemic world. Clients are more nervous than ever, which makes trust more important than ever. Trust is built by having someone at the end of the phone or in your local travel agency, ready to reassure you and provide suggestions and services tailored to your needs and wants.


When these former DIY gun-shy clients find an agent that they can rely on, not only are they very likely to make another booking, but they’ll also be shouting from the rooftops about your business. That’s how a solid pipeline is sustained and how a reputable business is built. 

Compare this kind of holistic, intuitive service with an online description followed by a few programmed responses from a chatbot. Or a ‘churn and burn’ style of in-person selling. Will your customers even remember your business name once they’ve come back from their holiday, let alone book again or recommend you?


Learning from the past  

Some will remember the impact that the global financial crash of 2008 had on the travel industry. I led a team of 50 luxury safari travel consultants through this, and even though it was tough, our year-on-year sales didn’t decline. Why? I had a team of expert travel advisors who truly profiled the customer, getting to know all their needs, offering amazing advice, going above and beyond with value-added information and who created journeys that delighted and didn’t disappoint. They didn’t churn and burn enquiries, they developed relationships that hooked the customer. 

If you want your team to thrive and feel like they need a brush up on their skills, have a look at our ‘How To Sell Travel And Achieve Sales Success’ course. Packed with bitesize and interactive lessons, you can learn anywhere and on any device, we guarantee a return on your learning investment from just one family booking. If you apply the process, you’ll achieve much more revenue, referrals and repeat business. Visit for more information.

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