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Episode 148 – Bounce Back From Corona with Dan Salmon (part 1)


The Corona Virus (COVID-19) have affected us in so many ways like how we conduct face-to-face conversations, in our business, and most especially, how we travel. When COVID-19 became a pandemic, borders were closed and our travel are restricted to flatten the curve of infection. Our guest today, Dan Salmon, was one of those who were hit the most. He is the founder of Never A Wasted Journey, a high-end luxury travel agency and he’s a long time member of the Big Business Events. Join Ross Temple and Dan Salmon as they talk about how Dan is bouncing back from the effects of COVID-19 to his business. Listen to learn more!

Show Highlights:

  • Awards and accolades that Dan’s Never A Wasted Journey have accumulated through the years
  • How Dan was able to use his company’s achievements in building his brand
  • How Dan was able to build his company without hiring any staff
  • What ‘s Dan’s approach to clients that rescheduled or cancelled because of COVID-19
  • Dan’s forecast with the travel industry in the next year
  • How Big Business Events helped Dan earn over 1.5 million in the last couple of years

Links Mentioned:

Big Business Events Members Network
Never A Wasted Journey

Transcript:

Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Ross Temple:

Dan, thank you for being here. I’d like to welcome everyone that’s going to be watching this to the first series of the Bounced Back Series. This is the first episode of the Bounced Back Series where –

Dan Salmon:

It is.

Ross Temple:

Where myself, Ross Temple, would head coach for Big Business Event. It’s going to be speaking with members of our community, members of the Big Business Event –

Dan Salmon:

[00:01:18]

Ross Temple:

Yeah, and really this just gives us an opportunity as a community, really to identify [00:01:23] sometimes where there’s been some ups been some downs, but most importantly, there’s that bounce back. We’re coming up a little stronger, we’re progressing and we’ve got that momentum. So for those who don’t know Dan, and for those who don’t know you, Dan is the owner, he’s the managing director of Never A Wasted Journey. Never A Wasted Journey are a tailored solution for your high-end luxury holidays. And Dan, I’m going to give Dan the chance at the moment to introduce himself to you all. But Dan has achieved some unbelievable results and got some huge breakthroughs. I mean the brand and the businesses and overall, Dan, you’ve done extremely well over –

Daniel Salmon:

Thank you.

Ross Temple:

A short period of time. So Dan, for those who don’t know you, would you please introduce yourself?

Dan Salmon:

Yeah, of course. So my name’s Dan, and as you’ve said, I’m the managing director of Never A Wasted Journey. And I started Never A Wasted Journey about seven years ago with the aim to kind of obviously help with your luxury holidays, but also offer experiences that you simply couldn’t book yourself. So that might be an afternoon [00:02:32] say in India, something like going at the top of the Empire State Building, and also submarine in Ohio, we can go on and off and some really kind of exclusive experiences along the way.

I’m obviously proud to say as well, and I won various regional awards for customer service [00:02:51] and to also the international. Our 68,000 agents also named the agent of the year, and also named one of the top one hundred companies in the UK, also names as one of the [0:03:04] in Dragon’s Den, one of these favorite companies. And overall, there’s been about 25 awards which obviously, thanks to you Ross, thanks to Adam and the team as well. Without your support, obviously, I wouldn’t be where I am now, and it’s just going from strength to strength, really.

Ross Temple:

No. And it’s great Dan, I mean honestly, the achievements you’ve had and the breakthroughs you’ve had have been unbelievable.

Dan Salmon:

Thank you.

Ross Temple:

And it’s been, it’s been great to see you and be with you on that journey. Now Dan, you made a good point there about awards and you know, you’ve shared some of your credentials there and some of the fantastic achievements you’ve had. How important has that been for you in using that part of your brand then?

Dan Salmon:

Yeah, absolutely massive. For me it kind of builds a lot of credibility, obviously for the people who worked with me, they kind of get to experience the service that I offer. Anyone else now, they kind of think, “Hey, well actually, I want to book my holiday. Now, when I book it with Dan, he’s getting these awards, there must be a reason for that.” And also, it’s getting the name out there, there’s been a lot of kind of press on it as well in the local kind of gazette, so papers, whatever it may be. And also online, on social media, and it has really, really got my name out there, build up a lot of credibility for me.

Kind of when I first started, before I get the awards, it may have just been people in the local area and kind of friends and family, but now it’s gone global. I’ve got kind of clients in Hawaii, in New York, Cave town. I’ve got people on that started [00:04:25] It’s just taking the brand and the name of Never A Wasted Journey kind of across the world. So really … yeah, awards are massive. I think it builds a lot of credibility. It’s nice to oversee it for myself because I thought that they … all their hard work does pay off as well. And yeah, they couldn’t have been any better for me.

Ross Temple:

Great, great. No, it’s fantastic. And thanks for sharing that, because.

Dan Salmon: 

No, you’re all welcome.

Ross Temple:

I feel that you know, the accolades you’ve had, the achievements you’ve made and how you’ve put that together, especially with what you’ve gone in the market, you understand the market very, very well. And I always say to a lot of clients, you know, never underestimate that. Never underestimate what it is your clients want, the type people that you want to deal with, but also, as an individual. And specially yourself, because you’re not a huge organization, are you Dan? you know, it’s not about the huge organization, but many people, many staff, many team members and how many people is it that –

Dan Salmon:

Just me.

Ross Temple:

Just you. I really wanted you to make that point because Dan, has the focus and his level of customer service, clients service, dedication, the kind of experience he provide for his clients is what has got him to where he is today. And some, you know, for those of you watching this, you’ve seen some of the, some of the awards and some of the, that level of credibility that he’s got. Dan has [00:05:43] Big Business Events and you now, with fantastic network and were here to walk with Dan through that. But you know, Dan has achieved this essentially very small team EGP and himself. It is possible. It is possible. It’s more than possible. So Dan, tell me what type of effect, what effect … COVID had on your business?

Dan Salmon:

Yeah. So obviously, within the travel industry, it has been huge. There have been obviously, a lot of airlines that have stopped flying, there’s been hotels that have closed. I think in general, a lot of people at the moment are very, very worried about traveling. It’s had a massive, massive effect. And to give you an idea, January, February, it’s peak booking season. For me, it involves … it’s got to be a hard flight [00:06:27] it start till we get through till 11 to 12 at night. And it’s shame really, cause everything you have put your hard work into, it’s all been canceled this year. I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

So in the last six months, it has been kind of cancellation after cancellation. But for me, it’s the way I’ve dealt with it, I think really. I’ve kind of put myself in the client’s shoes, kind of given them what I’d want myself. So to give you an idea, I’ve actually refunded over a half a million pounds worth of holidays and rather than having clients kind of … people who have put themselves who’ve had spent hours and hours of their free time on their kinds of phone to airlines, their sending email after email to hotels, they’re not getting any replies, they’re not getting their money back. And it’s still out of pocket for kind of holidays which they spend on holidays taking place in March.

So for me, I’ve got full refunds for clients within two weeks. That’s it. No buts, no what ifs. If the hotel wasn’t there. Even people who may be a little bit worried about going to the sets and destination coming up, I’ve waved all kind of change fees we’ve switched into next year. When we think it’s also going to be a safer time to visit some sort of destination. So having to refund that much money, obviously it does hurt, but at the same time, you want to give the clients the best service.

You want to make sure that they’re gonna be protected, they’re happy. And it’s just being to understand them and kind of evolve in as the situation goes on. The only other thing is just obviously, keeping in touch with foreign office, making sure that where people are due to be booked to go to is safe to do so, if not, keeping them aware. And just keeping on top of it. I think everyone is so confused. Where can we go? Where can’t we go? When is it picking up again? So it’s down to me to do the hard work for them and just make sure, so I’m keeping them updated and jumped in if I need to be … to make any changes or arrangements.

Ross Temple:

I mean, two points that you made Dan, and highlight, it’s for everyone who’s going to be watching this. First of all, Dan said, you know, no one saw this coming. And business is full of that. Business is full of times when the unexpected turns up and it’s how you want to prepare yourself for that? Two, how you deal with that? And you know, at any point, did Dan make it about himself? You can hear that. And I’m stating the obvious, if you can hear Dan’s passion and enthusiasm for his clients experience.

Now, not at one point Dan make it about him in that … in what you decide to do. Dan [00:08:50] his clients, he said, “I needed to step into the shoes of my client. I needed to deal with it as if I wanted that for myself, and how could I do that to make the best of my abilities. Another thing to remember, it sounds very blunt, but it’s never about you as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, it’s about your clients. Your clients make business. I know it’s sounds cliché and we hear it. Specially in times like this where, you know, you might think, “Well, actually, it’s not about me, it’s about the business.” The half a million pound there that Dan has given in terms of refunds. But then, how has that made your brand stronger? How has that made your relationship stronger [00:09:24]

Dan Salmon:

Well, to me, it’s been, it’s actually kind of, for my name out there, it’s been really, really beneficial. All the clients who I’ve built great relationships with, they are over the moon that they’ve got their money back. They’re not having to waste their free time or go through the stress. So it’s built that confidence again, moving forward that they are booking with the right person. Their friends are kind of telling them stories where, “Oh, we haven’t got our money back, we’re not getting it back, we’ve been offered a credit note but we don’t want to go on that holiday now.” So it’s really good.

The other good thing for me now is I’m finding … I’m getting a lot of new clients coming in through word of mouth from this. So the clients I’ve dealt with, my regular ones, they’re obviously very, very happy. They’d be telling their friends, telling their family. And now that kind of their restrictions are started to be lifted little bit with travel, I think everyone’s fed up, everyone wants a holiday. They want something to look forward to, and I’m actually getting bombarded with inquiries from people I’ve never even spoke to before that. So I think it’s within the way I dealt with the situation.

Now moving forward, it’s also going to be beneficial for me, and I’ve got a lot of a better name, if you like, compared to other companies who might be getting a bit of a bad name at the moment. So yeah, it’s been a change to me, and it’s really worked in my favor.

Ross Temple:

Okay. Great. Some really good points there. And really, you know, to ask the question of, how have you bounced back stronger? How has this time of adversity, this time of … among which came about, how has it made you stronger Dan, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, as a business as an overall?

Dan Salmon:

Well, to me honestly, it’s kind of giving me time to step back. I’m usually kind of nonstop, by booking after booking, speaking to clients, really fast paced running the company. So it has given me a chance to step back to a lot of stuff behind the scenes. So first of all, I’m seeking that what counts up today, that’s been constantly changing throughout the year making sure they’re absolutely perfect. And I’m spending a lot of time on social media. Obviously, it’s not a time to be promoting offers, so I’m kind of posting ideas of telling people how I’m here for them, how I can help them.

Generally offering a free kind of advice to even people who haven’t booked with me, so I spoke to quite of a few different people who were worried about their travel plans. I’ve had a great conversation with them, they haven’t had the best service to the people they booked through, and now moving forward, they’re looking to come back and deal with me off the back of that. And again, it’s preparing for the future obviously, looking at ways I can cut costs which is just to get me through this kind of crisis, and then I’m predicting that everyone is ready on travel for the year ahead. Maybe not in the near future, but towards into the year into next year. I think everyone’s missed out on their holidays, so everyone wants to get away.

I think it’s time to kind of prove into people that they want to spend more precious time with their friends and family. They want to create these memories, they want to go on fantastic trips, and it’s no longer kind of like your last minute, low budget holiday. I don’t think that’s really going to be the way forward, it’s people wanting to go on these really fantastic experiences.

So again, it’s keeping in touch with more clients, go on out there to get new clients, then offering my help where I can, and again, preparing for the future, and kind of keeping people updated on how it’s going to be with travel because it is going to be complicated now, and it is going to be different. And I think people want that kind of personal touch. They want someone to speak to, they don’t want to kind of be doing it online or do it themselves. And yeah, and just getting ready still creates some fantastic experiences, but obviously, this time around, more private, very safe, very luxurious and the complete welfare for them.

Ross Temple:

Fantastic. So Dan, if you don’t mind me asking, and to share with the people who are going to be hearing this. I know it’s quite a vast question or very [00:13:05] but what, your price ranges, where did I normally can start from and go to?

Dan Salmon:

Of course. So I’ll just give you a bit of a comparison. So when I first got us out Never A Wasted Journey, and I was dealing with, as I said, friends and family, and it was really kind of a low budget. It’s couple of hundred pounds up to maybe a couple of thousand pounds, that was a huge booking to me then. But obviously, thanks to again, Big Business for your support and kind of the things you taught me along the way. And to give you a comparison, six years later, so last year from originally, said in over around 50,000 pounds in my first year, I sold over one and a half million pounds worth of holidays.

Ross Temple:

That’ amazing. You have created 50,000 pounds to one and a half million pounds.

Dan Salmon:

Yeah.

Ross Temple:

I mean, that is unbelievable. 

Dan Salmon:

And value wise. Thank you. And value wise, it’s now probably, I’m saving from a couple of thousand pounds per booking all the way up to 250,000 pounds.

Ross Temple:

Okay.

Dan Temple:

So that’s best in kind of range that I’m dealing with at the moment.

Ross Temple:

That is the reason why I asked that question, because I see it time and time again, a lot of people undervaluing what they offer. And I feel that sometimes comes down to not understanding your value as a business, as an entrepreneur, and the time and effort you put into this. But understanding really what that client wants allows you to be in a position where you can try to conform. How did you make that transition from going from 200-pound booking to your top booking of being 200,000 to now offering this spoke luxury holidays right up to 250,000?

Dan Salmon:

Yeah. So, well, for me, it was … there’s a couple of things really. When I first started, I wasn’t big on social media. It didn’t really … I didn’t really have a presence, but again, through Big Business Events, you kind of introduced me or gave me the opportunity to meet celebrities, obviously some very, very well-connected people within the group and friends or contacts of others outside of the group. So again, it’s been word of mouth for me. My social media now is close to 10,000 on Instagram. Whereas, at the start, I’ve been that probably a hundred. And again, I’ve had celebrity booked with me, so that obviously gets the name out there hugely. There’s a lot of sports personalities as well who booked with me as well.

It’s really offering them that service, so they will then go on social media, they’ll thank me, “Thanks Dan, Never A wasted Journey.” Whatever it may be. I don’t think it could be word of mouth as well. So due to that service … and again, I’m not someone who … if someone comes to me now and they want to get away for say 200 pounds or whatever it may be, I can’t have any value to that. So we’ll be honest with people and say, “Look, I’m really sorry on this situation, I can’t help you, it wouldn’t be best to get yourself.”

I’m really about offering the service where I can add value to people’s kind of holidays and trips away. And again, it’s situations like this, where obviously, I will come in as close as I can on price, but I’m not going to suddenly discount something where I’m going to make 50 pounds and at the same time, it’s just … it’s not what I’m about. It’s really offering kind of a [00:06:03] for client, and know they’re going to go away and have a great time. It is obviously the value that I offer as well. So I have people who once have to be at 11 o’clock at night, I’m getting back to them direct, I’m working out of hours. It’s the value that I connect when they’re there. So it may be a room upgrade, a bottle of champagne, a spa treatment.

There’s so much that you can’t really put a price on it, the actual extra value that I have got. At the same time, there’s a lot of companies out there who are obviously being very competitive, so that’s exactly what I’ve got to do as well. It’s just adding that value, stepping in what it needs to be done. I think it’s really these experiences that I have paid for. I think luxury used to be, why I want a week stay at the best hotel in Barbados. Whereas now, it’s all about the experience. And I’m kind of providing money-can’t-buy-experiences, but you couldn’t book it yourself. And for that, obviously that’s when people are happy to spend. They know they’re going to be looked after, and it’s what they’re coming on year after year, just because of the experiences they had been on every holiday.

Ross Temple:

Some really, really nice points there about understanding what value means to your client. And that goes back to us with that pricing point, because you don’t want to get into that mindset of competitiveness and feeling like it’s a bidding war. You understand. And it goes back to the first point, understand what your client wants. What value means to them and truly what the experience entails for them, that’s how you stand out. And that’s been a big part of how you use that for competition. Right, Dan?

Dan Salmon:

Exactly, right. Exactly. Right. Yeah. It’s offering something different as you say. And it’s not all about price. I think people, they haven’t got the time to go enough around. They want to go with someone they’re going to trust where they know they’re going to have a good time. I think everyone’s time is so precious now, that when they do want to go, they will spend for it and they want to do it properly.

Ross Temple:

Yeah. And that’s great, yeah. You have a really nice point there. Fantastic. So for yourself Dan, what key points and what have you done, what have you had to do for yourself to keep you through this period of unknown and ups and downs? And as you said, the unknown happening. How do you kept yourself on track and kept yourself progressing and moving forward?

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