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bookings are taken online with the rest completed over the phone. The firm tries to create flexibility


among its workforce by moving employees between functions, which helps during peak booking seasons. Sales staff also have the opportunity to improve product knowledge through educationals. On the Beach has been busy building


its brand image and is currently running its second year of national TV advertising. The OTA also has outdoor and radio campaigns this year. The numbers are certainly adding


The Barrhead Travel team .BARRHEAD TRAVEL


After a few technical hiccups with the videocall software, it’s Barrhead’s chance to talk about its online brands – with Karen Musgrove and


Laura Sinclair on screen for their presentation. The Glasgow-based agency chain is another early online adopter and launched its first fully bookable site nearly 20 years ago. Since then,


Barrhead’s portfolio has grown to include seven other specialised websites, such as Cruisedirect.co.uk, Flights Direct and Canada Travel Specialists, with a team of up to 150 people working across these brands. The philosophy is always to offer a


point of contact for online customers. “They are websites done by people for people,” says Karen. Even if a client does not require human assistance, the booking will still be checked by a consultant. Customer reviews are uploaded on


Staff at On the Beach


Facebook and reviews.co.uk, while internally there is a “recognition wall” displaying customer comments with agents receiving a shopping voucher for every positive piece of feedback. As well as Facebook, Barrhead is


widening its social media channels via Pinterest and Snapchat to target a younger clientele.


.ON THE BEACH


It’s been quite a journey for On the Beach from its origins in a terraced house in Macclesfield 13 years ago to now being listed on the London Stock Exchange. Despite the huge changes, chief


Loveholidays chief executive Alex Francis (left) and chief operating officer Jonny Marsh


marketing officer Alistair Daly says the ethos of the OTA is still “perfecting the beach holiday for our customers and creating a better customer experience through technology”. On the Beach now employs 320 people in its Manchester office including 110 in its contact centre for customers. About 90% of the OTA’s


up for On the Beach, with revenue up by 13% last year to £71.3 million while unique visitor numbers to its website also increased by 13% to 61.3 million.


KATERINA SAYS…


“Working with the travel trade is vital to Gran Canaria,


so we were very excited to be able


to support TTG’s Top 50 Travel Agencies once again. Online travel agents are vital in encouraging people to visit our beautiful island. And much like Gran Canaria, the best online travel agents are always evolving and growing, so it was exciting to hear how the finalists in this category are developing their businesses. It’s an exciting year, with lots of


extra airlift and refurbished hotels. Come in July and you could be one of the first visitors to our new aquarium, home to an array of fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. I attended the first Top 50


ceremony last year and it was fabulous. I can’t wait to meet the finalists and celebrate with this year’s winners.”


TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST


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