Diane Coleman of Tickets Travel, one of our industry bloggers, writes:
Well I don't know about you but December isn't exactly time for most agents and operators to be rushed off their feet is it?
You would imagine most operators would be happy to quote on good bookings (or any bookings for that matter!) – but apparently not!
As an independent agent we like to put our business with specialist operators where we can and hope to receive as good a service as we'd like to think we give our clients – one where we can get through to on the phone, one that values the business and comes back to us when promised etc etc.
Imagine my surprise when I received quite the opposite from two very well respected companies that shall remain nameless.
No. 1 was for a quote for two families to SFO [San Francisco] and Las Vegas – approx £10,000. One North America specialist, which is usually on the button, didn't reply to our email, so we phoned them; a quote was emailed, we were told.
We hadn't received it and we were asked to check. We are a small agency with two computers and not many more staff, we were sure we hadn't, but we checked.
We hadn't received it, so we were told it would be faxed!
It didn't arrive. We chased again. Your fax isn't working, we were told – but we'd just received another fax and we'd just sent one!
We asked why it couldn't be emailed again. Apparently the lady that had completed the quote had a clear out and mistakenly erased it! It did come eventually with another ramble about how it had been sent the week before and how we ought to get our fax fixed, etc [makes you wonder if they need the business!!].
No.2 was for a quote to Chile. I'm afraid to say that 20 years in the business still hasn't given me much experience of South America. The clients may as well have been talking to me in Spanish when they gave me the details!
So I approached a company I'd like to do more business with – a specialist with a director with a very apt name for this season (it wasn't him I spoke to).
I'll be honest with you, he said: “You won’t get anything for Jan or Feb – its peak season.” I'll try for November – but the clients will go any time Jan or Feb, they don't want November.
“You need to book nine months in advance at least for Chile – it'll come back full,” he said.
I was getting nowhere. In the end, I said: “So you don't want to try and see then?"
No, he said, “I'm just being honest”. Shame really as Travel 2 managed to come up with something for £7,300 – admittedly it was difficult to get the seats but we got there in the end.
I don't know about you but I cant afford to turn away business for that sort of money and even if I could I wouldn't – I want to keep my reputation as I've spent a long time building it!
Oh and by the way: Feliz navidad.
I'm beginning to get my head round the Spanish after all!
Diane Coleman, Tickets Travel