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TOP TRAVEL AGENCY CENTRAL ENGLAND


TTG’s Matthew Parsons and Nicola Harper, Attraction World nation and icy gales during their visits, but had warm welcomes from ev


.INSPIRED TRAVEL, BURBAGE


Owner Kate Harris braves the flu to meet us as we kick off our reviews on a freezing January morning. She’s the lucky one; senior sales consultant Sharon Keaveney is in hospital having her chest X-rayed after her own bout. Yet Kate makes me and Attraction World’s Nicola Harper feel right at home with her warm, chatty personality. Also warm is the decor of this cosy independent, decorated with colonial touches and nestled away in the village of Burbage, Leicestershire. Despite the flu, Kate is bursting


with excitement as she briefs us on her history – it’s been 10 years since she set up Inspired after leaving Travel Counsellors in 2007. Today, there’s a commitment to


supporting, and marketing within, the village of Burbage, backed by support from The Travel Network Group, whose support Kate raves about and maximises. She says she hates the buzzword “growing organically” but confirms this is exactly how her business is growing. A recent £25,000 Facebook booking backs this up. We also meet accounts assistant Jayne Sansome and administration assistant Gaynor Dyall, who complete what is a formidable yet friendly agency.


.VILLAIR TRAVEL, ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH


For our next stop, we’re warmly greeted by Villair business partners


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Inspired Travel’s Kate Harris (front) with, from left, Gaynor Dyall, Jayne Sansome and Sharon Keaveney


Carla Cole and Mike Richardson in Ashby- de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire. The agency is a hive of peaks activity,


so we retreat upstairs in order to get the lowdown. Most notably, we hear about the


agency’s impressive heritage. It was founded in 1983, and among the nine staff there’s more than 200 years of experience – with Carla celebrating 25 years. Mike, who’s also commercial director at Elite, says Villar is one of the consortium’s original members. There is robust staff training here,


which helps agents learn the “Villair way” of selling. It clearly works, with Villair targeting £3 million turnover this year. Yet the small touches are a speciality too – it’s not just a bottle of champagne in the hotel room for special-occasion guests, Villair staff know what type of champagne clients prefer. They also take the lead with


incentives – one custom-made Jet2holidays £75 voucher campaign on Facebook sold out in hours, leading to further requests and a better relationship with the


TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST


operator – “and it’s those customers who will then later go on to book Thailand or US holidays next time”, Mike says.


Nicola Harper with Villair’s Mike Richardson and Carla Cole


.REGENT TRAVEL, STONE


We’ve been beaten to it. During our visit, a photographer from the Katherine House Hospice – Regent’s latest charity partner – is snapping the staff and there’s a buzz in the air. But manager Beverley Rommelrath still finds time to greet us and share the story. The shop, in Stone, Staffordshire, is a pillar of the community and “clients really are like friends,” inviting the team to weddings and other special events. Beverley may have clocked up 15 years at Regent, but founder David


TRIVIA TRIP


DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 710 miles


GLUTTONS’ ROCKY ROAD CAKES CONSUMED: 2 SNOWSTORMS EXPERIENCED: 1

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