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TOP TRAVEL AGENCY EAST OF ENGLAND


April Hutchinson, editor of ttgluxury, ventured east with support from to track down agents in supermarkets, seaside towns and sleepy v


other stores where possible. In-store events at Tiptree with tour


operators have also proved successful in the past year and Lisa is now hoping to organise at least five of these a year, as well as general coffee mornings and continuing with her coach trips, which she also escorts.


.TRAVEL STOP, HADLEIGH


.EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OPERATIVE TRAVEL, TIPTREE


It’s almost dark as SuperBreak’s Donna Smithson and I arrive, but the cheery orange interior of the shop livens us up. Being located inside Asda supermarket means the agency has to stay open for at least one late night and Sundays, which manager Lisa Lightly says proves beneficial for business, as do the numerous UK coach tours she organises; upon their on-sale date in December, people are “queuing out the door at 8am” to make a booking, she says. Aside from the usual product


training, Lisa tells us her staff also have Dementia- awareness training, and she is defibrillator-trained too, so knows how to use the machine in the village hall – donated by East of England Co-op. She tries to give prizes for local causes, such as the Tiptree Jobserve Bowls Club’s raffle, and organises the collection of toys in the shop at Christmas for the East Anglian Hospice. Given they have no shop


window or spontaneous footfall, it must surely be their attention to customer service that helped them hit their annual target seven weeks early in 2016 and when it comes to marketing, Lisa uses the Coop network to her advantage, giving out leaflets to customers in


22 TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST


Along with family and friends, Bridget Keevil transformed this old cornershop in an impressive 10 weeks in 2013 – and there’s even a video on YouTube to prove it. Right-hand woman Cheryl Locke


keeps everything in check across the business (which includes two other Suffolk stores), and also held the fort from August 2015, when Bridget set off to circumnavigate the globe for almost a year. Last July, all staff flew to Holland near the end of Bridget’s mission for a combined celebration of her achievements and


The Travel Stop team with SuperBreak’s Donna Smithson (second left)


the company’s 25th anniversary. The agency digs deep to show


clients love too, spending more than £5,000 a year on gifts and flourishes. And given the five pages of feedback on the Travel Stop website – which Bridget has recently overhauled – customers appreciate everything the girls do for them. There’s a successful


monthly Lunch Club, now entering its 10th year and offering an


interesting talk by different suppliers each time, while in 2017, they’ll hold a large cruise show with more than 1,100 clients expected. The agency operates the Travellers Reward Incentive Programme, generating £1 million worth of new business in three years, and another success has been organising the travel arrangements for the World Transplant Games, netting them £200,000 a year; it’s not surprising this is now a £2.2 million turnover store.


.DEBEN TRAVEL, WOODBRIDGE


Lee Hunt may be looking smart as Donna and I walk in, but his bright demeanour hides tiredness – he’s just


Left: East of England Co-operative Travel’s Lisa Lightly. Above, colleagues Amy Davis, Anne Roberts, Emma Firman and, seated, Donna Smithson


From left: Deben Travel’s Abi Nunn, Lee Hunt and Suzanne Ward


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