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m sponsor SuperBreak villages


photo with Lewis Hamilton. Celebrating six


years of Deben Travel in January, savvy Lee is hot on email marketing, sending out a weekly newsletter with offers and news. “People contact us to ask where it is if they’ve not received it yet!” Lee laughs. He pays to boost posts on Facebook but says the main thing is to be fun and interactive and he always seeks out sponsorship opportunities locally, such as Woodbridge Town FC, or scorecards at Seckford Golf Club. Now representing around 20% of the


shop’s business, there’s to be a cruise show this March, and other success stories include an afternoon tea last year for clients with ITC Luxury Travel in the posh seaside village of Aldeburgh, while colleague Abi is planning to host more solos coffee mornings this year.


.THE CO-OPERATIVE TRAVEL, LOWESTOFT


back from Benidorm, where he took the whole team for their annual Christmas mini-break. There’s another “member” of the


team too – Deben Bear, a cuddly little character who has been taken in more suitcases than Lee can count and is so well travelled, his leg once fell off; he’s even managed to get himself into a


My next set of visits call for a three- hour train journey from London to Lowestoft, where I’m met with a chilly sea breeze in the UK’s most easterly settlement. Luckily, Scott James of SuperBreak has taken up the mantle from colleague Donna and is waiting for me in a warm car. Store manager Sam Fordham is still beaming with the joy of a new shop, having moved last April from


The Co-operative Travel, Lowestoft team with SuperBreak’s Scott James (left) and Paul Dale (right) head of specialist businesses, Central England Co-operative


inside the Beales department store across the street. “We’ve had plenty of new customers!” she says. But it’s amazing Sam can chat as much as she does, having had to learn to speak again after major surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from her tongue in 2014. Following her recovery, she fundraises all she can, including roping the girls into a Dryathalon, or her daredevil tandem skydive for Cancer Research, and she always tries to get a story in the local press. The cheery orange decor helps


create a happy atmosphere and there’s a Travel The World in-house magazine to browse at the waiting area; a new foreign exchange counter is also bringing in more business, Sam says. Working with operators is clearly


important in these new premises, having undertaken successful client events with the likes of Saga, Premier Holidays and Wendy Wu,


while a Titan day had clients seeing the company’s rep by appointment.


.DEPARTURE LOUNGE TRAVEL, BOSTON


After a night at Stoke Rochford Hall (pictured left) – which I swear was haunted – we’re off to our last agent. Prince would have liked it here, as he and co-founder Debby King clearly share a love of purple. The bijou store has just three desks, but on the first floor there’s loads more space and an office that can be used for VIP consultations, or events – such as a Saga afternoon tea event last year. Facing redundancy from the


closure of their previous agency, Debby and her colleagues teamed up to open this shop in 2009. She has since become “the Simon Calder of Lincolnshire”, regularly asked on to the radio for travel tips. She is a fan of Facebook for


From left: Departure Lounge Travel’s Debby King, Anette Whiting, Sam Grayson and Kerry Lee


keeping in touch with customers, including staff profiles and promoting fun videos – which have included a Footloose-themed one. The team also hand out sweets (purple ones) in little bags with business cards to passers- by to encourage them to visit the shop’s Facebook page, where it’s clear there is a high level of engagement. Given the lengths they go to – including saving the day by tracking down a client’s daughters to tell them their father had been taken seriously ill on holiday – it’s hardly surprising they’re successful, with turnover up 26% for the first month of 2017.


TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST 23


TRIVIA TRIP


MILES TRAVELLED: 790 BEST SNACK DISCOVERY: Yoghurt-covered bananas from Wilko in Lincoln TRAIN JOURNEYS TAKEN BY APRIL: 7


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