Agent Diary: At last, things really are looking up for travel

Swords Travel Luxury Travel Associate Carla Hutchings says she has never been so excited to be going away next week

Like all of us running our own travel businesses, things have still been tough over these past few months. But, finally, I’m starting to feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I even booked flights for myself yesterday, to travel to Athens on July 21 this year to board an NCL cruise around Greece which I was kindly invited on – and I’ve never felt so excited!

It’s no longer a case of ‘will I get to go?’ but ‘yes – I’m heading off on holiday this month!’

At last, that passport can come out of the top drawer. And to top it all off, the government has just announced that its next guidelines will go ahead and double‑vaccinated customers will no longer need to quarantine on return from amber destinations from July 19. This means I, and many others, will be heading to the skies!

Homeworking benefits

Being a homeworker is great for working at the same time as taking up these great travel opportunities. I can pack my laptop, phone, bikini and flip-flops and that’s all I need.

I could be selling holidays to my customers from the poolside in Greece, or while eating tapas in Spain, or on a Reggie Bus in Barbados (OK, that last one might be a bit tricky). But the main benefit of being a homeworker is that it’s so flexible.

Virgin glamour

In between quoting customers for 2022 holidays, I was approached by Craig Davidson of Flexi Reps who asked if I would like to go back to what I’m known for – being a ‘rep on the road’. When he said the role was to help promote Virgin Voyages’ UK Summer Soirees, I jumped at the opportunity!

If you like glamour, luxury and fine dining, Scarlet Lady is for you: perfect for the curious or the craver!

I’m all booked up and can’t wait to try it out! It was so lovely popping into stores and seeing familiar faces that I’d not seen for ages – it’s like I had been locked away for months! UK staycation cruises have been so popular, and it’s great to see so many agents proactively promoting these itineraries in their windows.

Events restarting

When I joined Swords, I decided to join BNI, a networking organisation. For me, this was a great opportunity as I was looking to build a database of customers, and I love networking, or should I say talking?

Obviously my best form of networking is usually at Travel Weekly’s Agent Achievement Awards, propped up at the bar with [If Only general manager] Gordon McCreadie, but seeing as we haven’t had face-to-face events for a while I have had to resort to Zoom networking recently instead.

I’m so excited that the AAAs are going ahead in London on September 16. The whole industry will be glammed up and getting themselves to London for one of the best awards nights in travel. Now all I need to do is ask a supplier nicely for an invite…

As we work through July and August, I want to wish everyone in travel lots of positivity for the remainder of the year.

Hopefully, I’ll be seeing many of you in September at the Agent Achievement Awards.

Quirky UK breaks have appeal too

As a homeworker for Swords Travel, I love being introduced to different operators we can work with. UK holidays have been so popular this year, but if you’re looking to catch the customer’s eye, try promoting ‘quirky’ UK breaks. People are looking for something a bit different after this last year we’ve had!

I did just this on my business Facebook page. I’ve been promoting walking holidays in Cornwall with Intrepid Travel, glamping by the River Wye, UK campervan hire and eco-friendly pods in Shropshire with Not in the Guidebooks. After all, not everyone wants sunshine abroad: some clients love to stay in England and experience something a bit different!

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