Opinion: PTA Jenny Jackson on missed opportunies

ackson speaks out on why some of the agent community make her very angry.


I cannot commend our wonderful industry high enough when it comes to the plethora of amazing tools right at our fingertips.?

We have?an unprecedented opportunity to learn about new products, the latest news, what’s hot and what’s not... I can certainly say I learn something new? every day.

11 years ago? at the age of 46, I made a huge career change bluffing my way into the travel industry having worked? as a beauty therapist in Harrods for? over 25 years.

I started working for a local Teletext company selling ski and city breaks...going from a secure monthly salary into a job that was on a commission only was a very frightening experience and a huge challenge - then again I have always loved a challenge!

My first day at Daybreak Travel I remember well.

I was shown my desk, where in front of me was viewdata, I had never seen a computer before, let alone something that was my key to successfully earning loads of money.

I was handed the list of offers on Teletext that day, a pile of brochures and of course shown the telephone.

That was my total induction into the world of travel.

Since then I have been working as a homeworker for Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors (formerly Future Travel) and never looked back.

And?11 years down the line I can confidently say everything I know about travel I have learned for myself, no-one has ever? helped me...and so far this year my sales are already 50% up on the same time last year and I had a great 2010.

Often colleagues email or phone me saying: "Jenny you are a Caribbean/ weddings and honeymoon/longhaul/luxury specialist, can you help me?"

The truth of the matter is, I was not born a specialist, we all have exactly the same opportunities out there and it is surely in our own interest to take full advantage of the array of online trainings, roadshows, webinars, tour operators weekly updates and offers ETC.

People laugh when I tell them I put myself about but I try to attend as many events as I can.

I know this is not always possible for? everyone to do but there is no excuse for not expanding your travel knowledge by doing at least one online training a week - even better if is to somewhere or a hotel group? you have never sold before.

I alway? strive to be ahead of the game and know exactly what is going on in the industry , after all you can? never? predict what your next enquiry is going to be!

I get really angry when an opportunity arises to attend a tourist board roadshow/training event or similar and someone says they are not interested because they don’t sell the product in question.

Can any of us really afford to turn business away these days just because we do not know enough about a hotel group or a more unusual? destination?

Is it a case of just being too lazy to learn something different and not wanting to move away from your comfort zone of mainstream travel?

We are all having to compete with the internet now so surely a useful little snippet about a hotel or destination, or recommending a couple of local restaurants or excursions can only win you new, and hopefully loyal, returning clients???

I ask clients both existing and new if they mind giving me feedback on their holiday both negative and positive and they absolutely love it.

They become Judith Chalmers and return with so much information right down to the names of staff they found really helpful, a certain cocktail they enjoyed, and most importantly how many holidaymakers they met and gave them my details!?

Mystery Shopper always intrigues me as to the general lack of knowledge often shown by travel agents particularly with the main high street agencies.

They seem to just want to send a potential customer packing with a brochure or two and a business card and then ask them to call if they see anything they like!

Where is the desire to give that possible long term client the benefit of your knowledge?

Why aren’t they taking the chance to make a positive statement to that client to demonstrate at long last that they have found the perfect travel agent.
There is no excuse for complacency nowadays.

Kuoni? was at the forefront of? my longhaul training?? and with their excellent newly launched? www.kuoniwwcollege.com online training programme.

They offer fantastic prizes including one free place on a Maldives educational...what a great incentive!

I have attended over? 15 Kuoni overseas educationals and seminars to boot. I always pay to go on them? and? accept this as a small price to pay for a long term investment in expanding my? travel knowledge.

There is not a country I have visited on an educational that I have not managed to sell confidently and with passion!

Also you have access to a whole host of destinations and hotel online training and now we have Aspire covering the luxury market.

It is important to keep abreast of new developments within what I feel is the most exciting aspect of the travel industry - high spenders and luxury travellers are always going to be loyal to a travel specialist that can always come up with fresh and unusual ideas.??????

With the abundance of new training modules available to all of us every week I would like to see some positivity from fellow travel professionals to give it a go and earn your own "specialist" titl