Inside Look: Charlotte Woodhouse
Each month we go behind the scenes to show how our expert staff work. This month we speak to Charlotte Woodhouse.
What’s your role Charlotte & how long have you been working here at CTM?
I’m team leader of Team Adventure, one of three teams serving clients. I joined CTM in early 2013. We do have a few public sector clients, like Middlesex University for example, but mostly Team Adventure look after corporate clients from the private sector.
Tell us a little bit about your background, what were you doing before joining CTM?
I’ve been working in the travel industry for 17 years now. I started my career in the leisure travel sector, but just before I came to CTM I worked in London for 3 years for another business travel supplier. There I was dealing mostly with pharmaceutical clients on meetings and events business.
On an average day, what do you spend most of your time doing?
I spend most of my day replying to client emails, picking up the ‘phone to clients, and helping the team with any queries. A lot of my time is spent trying to secure the best fares possible for our clients of course. I work closely with our bookers directly. These days the majority of our enquiries come through via email, but sometimes it helps to talk things through on the ‘phone and give that personal level of service. Once clients have been working with us for a while they might call us, so it can be a combination of both.
My role is to act as a sounding board for the team, help them find the right fares and troubleshoot any problems we may have with the many different systems we use. I’m here to support my team and help them do their jobs effectively as possible.
What specific skills does the job require?
You need to be a good communicator in this job and be able to anticipate your clients’ needs in advance, and also factor in things like any extras they might need. Of course you’ve also got to have a solid knowledge of the world, and be a strong people person who can really build rapport with clients.
And what are the main challenges?
Securing the best possible fares and rates for accommodation for our clients is always a challenge, providing the best travel options which work with their conference and meeting requirements.
Their needs can vary enormously, depending on their schedule and their budget and personal preferences of course. We always send three options so they have a great choice and can make an informed decision. We normally offer a two-hour turnaround time too, so you have to be on the ball.
The most frequent issue we have is when clients make a booking themselves with an incorrect name. Airlines are definitely more flexible than they used to be about this, but it can still be a challenge to get them to avoid charging us for a brand new ticket instead of just a admin fee.
Then there are all the day to day things too, like matching specific locations where a client needs to be to the best airport, and then finding competitive fares for those.
Are you working on any interesting projects lately?
We’re working with one client currently who deliver airplane parts. They usually fly someone out with a part who are met at the aircraft door, sometimes they stay on the plane and then travel back straight away. So it’s always interesting to work with clients like that who have slightly different requirements from the usual.
What is it about the job that you most enjoy?
I really enjoy the one-on-one client contact and building rapport with them, understanding their needs and generally supplying them with the best travel options available. Whether by email or on the ‘phone, I enjoy getting to know them over time and take satisfaction in giving them a comprehensive service.
What do we offer which makes us stand out? In your view, why do our clients choose us over any other TMC?
We stand out because we offer a more personalised service than most other TMCs. We know our clients very well and understand and guess their needs, having established a good relationship with them. They get to know us well too, which is just as important I think. They know that they always have a dedicated team member they can speak to, so they’re not passed around the houses. They don’t get a call centre experience at CTM, they get people who have a lot of experience in business travel and understand their needs.
Finally Charlotte, what’s your favourite travel destination and why?
I love travelling to pretty much anywhere in America, but if I had to pick one city there it would have to be New York!
The last time we went there we hired an apartment in the East Village and felt like real New Yorkers.
We hope you've enjoyed getting to know Charlotte a little better. Why not read more of our staff profiles while you're here?