discussed by our guest speakers this week. Watch in full at TRAVEL AGENCY BOSSES

Tony Mann

Gemma Antrobus

Charles Duncombe


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‘This crisis is awful but you can’t let it beat you’ When the dark days

ravel agents have vowed not to let the Covid pandemic beat them but admit the situation has

taken its toll and there have been many “dark days”. Tony Mann, director of Idle

Travel in Bradford, said: “I try and look forward but I’ve never known anything like it. I keep saying ‘well, it could be worse’, but it’s hard to see how it could be.” Mann, who said closing his

agency at the start of lockdown was “heart-wrenching”, added: “There can’t be many people who will come out of this who haven’t been affected deep down in some way, but I’ll flip the other way and think ‘it’s not going to beat me’.” Charles Duncombe, director at

homeworking agency Holidaysplease – which is supporting some of its hardest-hit homeworkers financially – agreed the industry must persevere. “It’s horrible but you’ve just got

to keep going and not let it beat you,” he said. “It’s tough; it’s awful; there are huge challenges that you have to confront every day.”

are really dark, you ring up your travel agency friends to cheer you up

He admitted he was “happy to

take a nice salary and dividends” when business was good, so must “crack on” now that “the brown stuff hits the rotating stuff”. Gemma Antrobus, managing

director of Haslemere Travel, said: “For our clients, who’ve faced the same sorts of struggles as we have with their own businesses or their own jobs, people do look to have a holiday as a way of getting over things. “So we are in the best place when

people are going to be looking to get themselves out the other side of this situation. They’re going to be turning to professionals like us and we just have to hang on in there. And when the dark days are really dark, you ring up your other travel agency friends who are having a good day and you get them to cheer you up.”

Paul Harrison

‘Make sure you’re ready for the booking frenzy’


omeworking agency Not Just Travel expects a booking “frenzy” in the coming months,

thanks to pent-up demand among British holidaymakers. Co-founder Paul Harrison said

the company’s first virtual conference last Saturday aimed to prepare agents for a busy sales period, especially as autumn and winter start to bite. “Sixty-five million Brits have

been locked up for seven months – there’s going to be a frenzy,” he said. “Let’s not just talk about it and

hope – make sure you’re ready to take advantage. That’s the key message we’re giving [agents].” Not Just Travel’s conference

saw the group’s corporate team and franchise network come together – albeit virtually – for the first time since its annual conference in December. Harrison said some agents told

him they had lost their “mojo” and were scared of making bookings as they did not want the hassle of having to make rebookings. “They needed belief in

Some franchisees

have done £500k-plus in sales during Covid

themselves, in the company and its leadership, and in the industry,” Harrison said. Harrison said he and fellow

co-founder Steve Witt had “lost everything” in the 2009 recession and hoped their experience of recovery would inspire agents. “We didn’t have two pence

between us, and look what we’ve created,” said Harrison. “We’re trying to focus their mind on how they can make money. There’s a lot of money still to be earned – we’ve got franchisees who’ve done half a million-plus [in bookings] during Covid.” He still expects a “sticky” period,

as agents may not earn much until 2021 when most holidays that have been booked are due to depart. “We’re keeping people focused

on the basics – do all your preparation and calls,” he said.



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