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TOP TRAVEL AGENCY NORTH EAST


TTG’s Abigail Healy and Lloyd Cross, Jet2holidays’ trade sales execut heard celebrity gossip, picked up local lingo and developed a love


.HAYS TRAVEL, WHITLEY BAY


Despite arriving in Newcastle on a dreary January day, Jet2holidays’ Lloyd Cross and I receive a sunny welcome at Hays Travel in Whitley Bay. Manager Lynsey Bamford is proud of the store’s younger members, saying they usually take on just one apprentice but she took on both Fern Dixon and Ashlea English after interviewing them. It’s clear the girls are a great addition, chipping in enthusiastically throughout our conversation. We’re entertained by the team’s “sexy scale” – whereby they rate each other on how well they deal with a client enquiry. We’re also impressed to hear how junior consultant Stephanie Crawford turned her obsession with Disneyland Paris into a sales opportunity by hosting client events. With 60% growth in repeat business year-on-year and an increase in new business of 44%, the store is performing well but the team still finds time to help others in its local community. When a nearby coffee shop lost its funding to host meet-ups for parents of children with Down’s Syndrome, the agency stepped in and offered some of its community partnership budget so that the initiative could continue.


.WESTOE TRAVEL, SOUTH SHIELDS


Keeping it in the family is an understatement at Westoe Travel,


16 TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST


Westoe Travel’s Joan and Graeme Brett with Abigail Healy. Inset left, Little Mix may never have existed without Westoe Travel


Jet2holidays’ Lloyd Cross with the team at Hays Travel, Whitley Bay


where only one of the five-strong team is not a Brett. Originally a newsagent not far from the current store, the Bretts started selling bus tickets to London, followed by coaches, hotels and trains, and the agency was born. Owners Graeme and Joan have always been creative with marketing, from handing out flyers with the News of the World in the newsagents to a more recent agreement to share direct mail costs with other local businesses. Another marketing tool is the


branded van, used to hand deliver tickets to clients, a service


that likely contributes to its 78% repeat or referred business. The team sends out regular e-shots to its 9,500- strong database, and communicates with its 10,200 followers on Facebook, and 3,910 Twitter followers – up from 2,012 this time last year. A stalwart of the local community,


Westoe Travel often sponsors and sells trips to local sports clubs, and we are left feeling awed by the touching story of two local single mums who couldn’t afford to send their daughters to compete in the X-Factorfinals; after footing half the bill, Westoe Travel now has the


lasting gratitude of girl band Little Mix’s Jade and Perrie.


.GAZELLE TRAVEL, DURHAM


After a savvy decision to close its high street store in Newcastle, Gazelle Travel focused on its Durham shop. General manager Stephen Craig explains that its reputation for flight consolidation in the north-east provides 60% of its business. However, the agency also makes significant revenue from dynamically packaged holidays using its


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