September 1 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
East of England Co-operative Travel has held a “speed dating” style event for its consultants as a novel way to improve product knowledge.
A dozen tour operators were invited to take part in the session, which was held at the East of England Co-op’s Wherstead Park headquarters on the edge of Ipswich,
Working in pairs, the consultants had 15 minutes with each tour operator to learn about new products and ask questions.
Caroline Thorne, travel coordinator for the East of England Co-op. said: “A large number of events like these are held in the evening, with no guarantee of attendance.
“I wanted to make sure as many of the team could make it here as possible so I decided to hold it during the day time in normal working hours, whilst the branch managers held the fort.
“This event was more than merely a sales tool. It was about building knowledge of the travel products available, allowing our travel consultants to provide wider and more in-depth advice to our customers when they are planning their holiday.
“Being in small groups meant that none of the team felt intimidated and the dedicated time with each operator meant they could have real conversations. Everyone was fully engaged throughout, it was great to see.”
Carmel Barker who works at the Felixstowe branch, said: “It’s been a fabulous day, a very good opportunity to meet tour operators on a one-to-one basis.
“This is the first time I have been to such an event and would like to do these more often with more tour operators. I’ve learnt lots that I can take back to the branch including that many tour operators have tools that can help customers such as visual aids that show the resorts and hotels.”
The tour operators also said they had found the day useful. Ines Ferraro, business development manager for US Airtours, said: “It was an invaluable day and incredibly cost-effective. To see this number of staff would have taken weeks of travelling, so to have them all here in one place was fantastic.”
Alison Armstrong, Jetset sales executive for the eastern region, added: “It was also really well thought out − none of the operators were conflicting which meant it was more relaxed as you weren’t competing. All of the travel consultants were forthcoming with questions. I wish there were more events like these.”
Following the success of the event, the East of England Co-op is planning to hold a similar style of event twice a year with different tour operators each time. It is also considering the format as a learning tool for other areas of the business.