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trade sales executive Sandra Bolton to sightsee to some great travel success stories


of the shop, which opened in 1963 inside the now defunct Ocky White Department Store founded by his grandfather, Octavius “Ocky” White, and the agency’s rebirth from the ashes of closure under Mark in 2013. With retro holiday adverts and a well-worn travelling trunk part of its store decorations, Ocky White Travel pays homage to its history and, now located down just off the high street, is “flourishing”. As we speak it is on the brink of


celebrating its highest-ever sales month. This is, in no small part Mark enthuses, the work of his committed team of agents, led by fellow director Anna Reed who deals with clients within her “waking, not working day”. Whether it’s recruiting customers as crew members for the Welsh Dragon Boat Championship or sponsoring the travel show on local radio stations, it’s clear that Ocky White places community at its core.


.MILES MORGAN TRAVEL, MONMOUTH


On the opposite side of the Cymru compass, in Monmouth’s cosy Miles Morgan store, manager Clare Hughes is explaining how the shop’s move to its “prime location” slap bang in the centre of the town’s high street two


years ago, helped fuel its growth. The branch, one of the original eight Thomson stores acquired by owner Morgan in 2006, feels very much a part of the fabric of Monmouth, with Clare herself a well-known face around the town. Last year the shop helped to save


local community centre, Bridges, by donating a holiday voucher during a fundraising night. It also makes a point of hosting client events there to continue its support. Clare also tells us excitedly how she’s busy organising a “local celebrity” to come and give a talk at a future gathering. Arguably Monmouth’s ace in the hole is travel consultant Sarah Jones – named top seller across all of Miles Morgan’s 15 branches last year. Each team member has their own sales style and loyal customer following who,


Left, from left: Tom Parry, Sandra Bolton and Polka Dot Travel’s Helen Johnson Above, from left: Polka Dot Travel’s Kathryn Darlington, Jessica Keates and Helen


we’re told, regularly ask to be served by their favourite agent.


.POLKA DOT TRAVEL, WREXHAM


After a cheeky detour over the border and back, our final stop brings us north to Wrexham and Polka Dot Travel which, surrounded by competitors in the busy town centre, stands out boldly, with eye-catching balloons and signature green and purple adorning its shopfront. The store, which opened in March 2015, acts as headquarters for co-founders Helen Johnson and Philippa Wilcox’s burgeoning empire, which has grown to eight shops since being founded in 2011.


Although you won’t catch Helen,


who runs the Wrexham branch, trapped under piles of admin as she prefers a hands-on role on the shop floor. Polka Dot credits itself with having an attentive “can-do attitude” and, as Helen explains; staff always ask customers its killer question: “how can we make your holiday extra special?” From staying up on New Year’s Eve to reserve flight seats or escorting a widower to the airport, nothing is too much trouble. Using this ethos Polka Dot has forged itself a strong community of customers and with word of mouth recommendations, localised leaflet drops and an emphasis on Facebook offers, has seen its Facebook likes grow by 4,000 over the last nine months and enabled the store to grow 53% in 2016.


From left: Miles Morgan Monmouth’s Sarah Jones, Clare Hughes, Irene Jones and Olympic’s Sandra Bolton TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST 25


TRIVIA TRIP


MILES TRAVELLED: 417


PUB TOILET STOPS: 3 FRIED BREAKFASTS GOBBLED: 2


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