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boost bookings by focusing on its tailor-made offering and stellar customer service. Owner Cathy Jackson-Spence

and her team of three pride themselves on always going the extra mile for clients – this has included arranging flowers and wine for a couple who both had their birthdays on a trip, as well as leaving “welcome home” notes for clients returning from their travels. Manager Francesca

Dubery tells me Cathy even sneaked off to pay a couple’s bill after spotting her clients dining at a restaurant in Tenerife. The girls (and Cathy’s

adorable office dachshunds Jude Law and George Clooney) are clearly loved by their clients, who bring them everything from fridge magnets to homemade safari calendars as thank-you gifts. While Francesca tells me their

clients are their advertisers – they have a huge 80% repeat booking rate – the team also advertises in a local magazine and are regulars on the wedding fair circuit. Hosting events at the local golf club

and championing a “bring a friend” scheme have helped to secure new business, and gross turnover is up by almost 15% on the previous year.


A scenic drive through the fine Yorkshire countryside takes us to the small town of Boroughbridge, where branch manager Sally Dixon and her team meet us with Cheshire-cat grins. Sally’s team of five each has a

specialism, with training a key focus and regular educationals to boost product knowledge. The store has a full events

calendar, regularly hiring out the nearby Crown pub for functions, and hosting everything from river cruise evenings to adventure nights. Sally tells me that the Spear

Abra Dunsby (centre) with Spear Travels Skipton’s Sophia Titorenko (left) and Julie Syers


Shop manager Julie Syers tells me she’s been keen to attract new customers since the former Neil Rankin Travel shop changed hands in 2014 and the previous owner left. Now Spear Travels, the agency is

making headway by diversifying its audience, focusing on the youth market and LGBT clients by posting targeted trips in the window. The team has added some fresh

perspective in the form of Sophia Titorenko, who joined as a full-time trainee last April. Since then, the agency has created its own Facebook

page, which is peppered with positive feedback and is starting to generate new bookings. We’re introduced to the agency’s

cuddly mascot, Spencer, who has proved a big hit on Facebook. “He’s travelled to Burma, Mexico

and Cape Verde on fam trips with us. Our customers love looking at photos of him on his travels,” Julie tells me. Sophia also plans to launch a

Twitter and Instagram page for the agency, and has ensured they have a voice on local community sites. Julie and her three agents are busy

on the events scene and ran a holiday show in the town hall last year attended by suppliers and customers.

Travels team loves dressing up during community events to draw in new customers, donning red, white and blue for the Queen’s 90th last year and rocking Lycra for the Tour de France. The agency also champions young

people as the future of the travel industry, running a travel agent corner in the local school. Building close relationships with

clients is second nature to the team, with welcome-home cards as standard, and customers often coming into the store to deliver positive feedback. The friendly approach has helped

to build a loyal client base, with 75% of custom coming from repeat business, while turnover is up by an 19.7% on the previous year.


From left: Wetherby Travel’s Lynne Joshua, Francesca Dubery and Karen Haigh

From left: Spear Travels Boroughbridge’s Sarah Lawson, Nick Quinn, Fern Hodges and Sally Dixon TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST


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