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TTG features reporter Andrew Doherty and Andrea Clayton-Norris, busin at AffordableXtras, battled multi-storey car parks and coffee with

luxurious, high-end store and personalised service too, which can include anything from driving customers to the airport to delivering tickets to elderly clients. Thames Travel prides itself on not


It’s a crisp morning when AffordableXtras’ Andrea Clayton- Norris and I arrive in leafy Twickenham and to Thames Travel where we are met by sales manager, Ben Murtagh. Established 35 years ago by John

Green and now run by his son Christian, the store has seen strong sales since its inception. Although word of mouth and customer referrals are the bread and butter of marketing, the team has utilised a newsletter with a circulation of 500 and a recent feature in RiverTribe magazine to get the agency’s name out there; a local Christmas pub event even secured Christian a £20,000 Maldives anniversary booking. An affluent location may help to

drive high-profit bookings, but the team have done well recognising the needs of their clients through the

being an offer-led business with an impressive decal of the Taj Mahal on the window taking the place of any deals – the image regularly changes to coincide with different holiday seasons. This has been the subject of much attention of passers-by and has even secured a profitable booking. “We had a lady who saw it and came in and booked a £40,000 holiday to India,” Ben says.


Despite the recent loss of his mother, director Nick Harding-McKay is adamant about meeting us personally to share the agency’s achievements – it’s been a year since I last visited and I’m eager to hear what’s new. Travel Designers has been trading

since 2002 and from last November expanded its team from three to six. Weddings and honeymoon bookings make up 35% of an annual turnover of £1 million, and with more than 21 wedding shows booked for the first quarter of 2017, Nick is confident they will smash their targets. The team has a strong digital presence and a canny knack for

engaging clients on social media through the creation of content; the team uses green-screen technology to make bespoke holiday offer videos which are then shared on the agency’s Facebook page to an audience of more than 6,400 people. Furthermore, an e-zine sent to a 10,000-strong database and attending as many local events as possible saw business revenue increase 22.5% in 2016 versus 2015. Nick is a big believer in accurately measuring customer satisfaction; the agency has been awarded Gold Trusted Merchant Status by Feefo for three consecutive years. Nick also emails every client who has booked, welcoming their feedback.

The Go Tr


I’m immediately struck by the colourful window display which is decked out in ski gear and fake snow. Store manager, Kelle Tomsett, is happy to tell us that people often come in asking to buy the decorations. “They are a great conversation starting point,” she says. Go Travel has been in operation for

more than eight years, and with more than 127 years of experience between the five staff, the agency prides itself on being able to confidently sell a wide range of destinations.

Despite the wealth of shared knowledge, training is still encouraged, with staff completing online modules in the downtime between bookings. The team regularly attend fam trips and supplier events too, which they blog about and share on their social media channels. Marketing incentives such as a door-drop campaign, which targets

The Thames Travel team 30

From left: Travel Designers’ James Whitaker-Sheppard, Beverly Kerr and Nick Harding-McKay TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST

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