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tive visited agents and e for Yorkshire tea

Hays Travel, Darlington Centre’s Star of the Month chart

and she’s happy that current manager Colin has continued traditions such as the desk rota, which means staff change their seating position each day. With so many people coming

Lloyd Cross (right) with the Gazelle Travel team

competitive flight rates and own Atol. The team has a 70% repeat rate

with regular customers such as Ann up the road, who took a Gazelle Travel banner to Antarctica on her holiday. Yet in a bid to drum up yet more clients, the agency has upped its marketing efforts in the past 12 months with a roundabout advert strategically placed on the way into Durham, adverts on the Park and Ride, and front-page advertising in the local press. Online, newest recruit Sam Heslop is a whizz on Facebook too. The team has taken some

impressive bookings recently –a £77,000 sale for a 60th birthday bash at Barbados’s Sandy Lane and a £39,000 booking for Dubai and the Seychelles. Giving back is also important and

the agency sponsors Durham Rugby Club and the Chester-le-Street Sea Cadets, paying for their tour guide on a recent trip to China.


When store manger Nicola Metcalfe joined in September 2015, the team at this city centre store was unsettled but she’s had consistent

Lloyd Cross (left) with the Hays Travel, Darlington Centre team

wall in the back office to regular sales-related challenges, and each of the apprentices has a mentor on the team. And the figures speak for themselves here: passengers are up 43% year-on-year and profit is up by more than £117,000.


staff for a year now and business is flying. This January, bookings were up 85% year-on-year and the store saw an increase in turnover of £1.5 million in 2016. A key reason for the success is

savvy use of Facebook. When Nicola started in 2015, the store had 700 likes; now it boasts 4,150. One post with a great offer to Bali resulted in 14 bookings in one day. It’s not just about drumming up business, though. The team raised £2,500 for charity Ronald McDonald last year, volunteered at the local Dogs Trust and has organised a number of coach trips to raise money for an ME charity. Lloyd and I are impressed by

motivational tactics, from the selling TTG’s Abigail Healy (front) gets her selfie on with staff at Hays Travel, Washington TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST 17

The shopping centre location of this store means a high footfall and its team is always busy with customers – and our visit is no exception. Samantha Snee was store manager from February to October last year

through the doors every day, it’s especially important that staff follow Hays’s ‘Meet, Greet, Seat’ mantra to the letter. When she joined the store last year, Samantha’s main focus was on staff training and development and she was especially proud to see apprentice Morgan Ross grow in confidence and ability. There are regular team

challenges; staff compete to make the most profit over a given period and often receive gifts from happy customers – one even brings a bunch of grapes in every week. Despite being a consistently

top-performing store, the team achieved a profit boost of 6% last year and booked 3% more passengers than in 2015.



DISCOVERED: Jet2holidays’ Lloyd’s whizz kid maths skills TOP SIGHT SEEN: Durham castle

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