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a tiny five-star island, with some of the most stunning pool villas we’ve ever seen. Japan is on the up and it’s mentioned time and time again when I’m out and about talking to our team. We’ve also booked plenty of trips to South Africa – it’s just such excellent value. Bali is doing really well too – it’s a destination that offers outstanding value for money and has real wow factor. Closer to home, Greece is our shining star – it’s 75% up year-on-year, as it really works for a premium travel experience, particularly Santorini and Mykonos.


HOW HAS KUONI'S FOCUS ON THE LGBT MARKET BOOSTED BUSINESS? It’s definitely been a successful move which has been welcomed by customers. Our LGBT honeymoon business is up 22% year-on-year, which is a testament to the team. Our focus this year will be expanding the training and including our trade partners in those sessions. As well as destination knowledge, we’re continuing to invest in sales training on different holiday types, so as well as LGBT we’ve also looked at families,


weddings and wellbeing – if we invest in our personal travel experts then that accelerates the conversion.


WHAT'S THE CURRENT SIZE AND SHAPE OF YOUR OWN RETAIL NETWORK? We’ve now got 47 branded stores, in John Lewis, shopping centres and on the high street. That’s the optimum number,


although there are still a few more opportunities to expand our John Lewis partnership. We’ve also got 11 partner stores and we’re still focused


on developing our partner programme – we’re currently looking at two new ones. Finding the right partner is about shared values and business objectives.


WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANYONE WHO DOUBTS THE FUTURE OF HIGH STREET RETAILING IN TRAVEL? Customers value real advice and expertise when it comes to more complex travel arrangements. Our experience shows that people will come into stores to talk to someone who knows their stuff. Nothing beats looking someone in the eye and chatting over a cup of tea or coffee to someone who has actually been there and done it themselves. People take a day off work to buy


an engagement ring and it’s the same with a special type of holiday. Booking a holiday is an experience, and agents who understand that create magic for their clients. This is still an industry with a lot of life in it.


WHAT CAN AGENTS EXPECT AT THE TOP 50 CEREMONY ITSELF? Our team will be there in force, including our sales and marketing team. We’v e got a fantastic prize to give away – a week at Long Beach in Mauritius. And I know TTG will pull out all the stops with the entertainment, so we’re looking forward to a great night celebrating the best in our business.


TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST 07


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