A life in the day of…

December 2012
Damian Wright

Damian Wright will be well known to many of our clients. For group organisers that are new to Tailored Travel it will be either he or Michael who will be your first contact with Tailored Travel. So, by way of introduction, we thought we’d give you a little peep into Damian’s working day to see how he turns that first call into the colour brochure for your tailor made tour.

“After my 40 minute commute across London from my home in Watford, I arrive at our offices near Tower Bridge ready for whatever the day might throw at me, but knowing this day like every other will be busy and varied.

Michael and John have always been clear that our group organisers receive excellent service before, during and after every tour and that those travelling on the tour enjoy a wonderful time together. Achieving that objective starts from the moment that first call comes into me.

Thankfully, our existing group organisers come back to us again and again and many of them are like old friends. But the great thing about working at Tailored Travel in the seven years I have been here is that, as our reputation has grown, so have the number of unsolicited calls from group organisers who have heard from others about the quality of our tours and service. It is dealing with these calls, whether from new or existing group organisers, and putting together the offers for their tailor made tours that starts the whole ball rolling.

That first call is really an information gathering exercise about the intended tour. If it’s a new group to Tailored Travel, it’s a chance to find out about the size, profile and expectations of the group organiser and the members and also for that new organiser to know more about Tailored Travel, after all they are placing a huge amount of trust in us.

Using the knowledge I have gained from having worked in the group travel sector over the last 15 years and seen what has worked well for others, I will often discuss with the group organiser ways in which I think the intended tour might be improved or made more attractive to the group members. Sometimes it really is a blank canvas – ‘I want to take my group to Italy, what do you recommend?’ – and then we have loads of suggestions to inspire and excite the imagination!

Michael and I work hard to ensure that the initial offer goes to the group organiser within 24 hours of that first call. Once we hear back from the organiser to say that they like the offer and to discuss and incorporate any changes to the itinerary or any other aspect of the tour that they require, I then contact all the various suppliers – airlines, hotels, preferred guides/tour managers etc – to option off the required dates. When that process is complete, the initial offer becomes a fully costed quote with the tailor made itinerary, for definite dates, at definite prices and with the best estimate of the group size. Even then, often there will be many subsequent quotes to cater for further thoughts or suggestions to the organiser from the members or the group’s committee.

Finally everything is agreed and that final tailor made quote is turned into the group’s personalised glossy 4 page colour brochure with highlights of the tour, a detailed itinerary and a booking form. I prepare the draft of that brochure and send it to the group organiser for their approval – even then it is no problem to make changes to ensure that everything about the holiday is as it should be. A group organiser will usually want 50 or so copies of the brochure to distribute to members at their next group meeting. Then it’s sent to the printers and posted to the group organiser.

How long is this whole process? That depends… Occasionally it’s very urgent and the whole process begins and ends in one day. Usually it’s about 10 days. Sometimes it’s longer than that, especially if the tour is not until some time in the distant future – to ensure best availability of hotels and tour managers, we are already putting together tailor made tours for 2014!

Then it’s over to the group organiser armed with the brochures to promote the tour to the members. But I’m still here to offer assistance – it might be to answer questions raised by individual members or to deal with insurance queries. Hopefully in a few weeks the group organiser calls through to say that the expected numbers have been hit and the booking forms and cheques are on the way. Even when the group has fallen short of those numbers, we are loathe to cancel a tour when all the hard work has been put in and in the vast majority of cases a way is found to ensure the tour runs as planned.

Once the booking forms are in and Accounts have done their bit, I step back and hand the reins to the Operations team who ensure that everything that has been promised in the quote and the brochure is delivered on the tour.

There’s one last job – to call the group organiser on their return from the tour and get full feedback on every aspect of the tour. And to find out their plans for the following year so the process can begin all over again!”