Beryl Towne joined Althams Travel straight out of college in 1977 and has been there ever since. She spoke to Samantha Mayling about why she can’t imagine working anywhere else.
Q. How did your career start?
A. I moved to Bournemouth for a one-year travel and tourism course, aged 16, learning about British Airways fares, ticketing and the law. Then I got a job in Accrington, Lancashire, with Althams within a month of returning home, and have been in the northwest ever since.
Q. How did your career develop?
A. I worked in Accrington, Blackburn and Clitheroe, and have been regional manager in the Burnley head office for 22 years. Being part of a local independent agency means a great deal to me. I never made the move elsewhere as I am happy where I am. We are a local, community-based company, so
we can make our own decisions.
Q. How has Althams Travel changed?
A. I remember, when I started, phoning was the only way to reach operators and everything was on manual charts. You’d make a booking in pencil then confirm it in pen. Now, we have about 200 staff in 32 branches, and are still growing. We recently opened a branch in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, and the Chorley branch in Lancashire moved to bigger premises in December. We have more part-time staff, as women returners want that work-life balance. Lots of staff, like me, have been with us for many years and some of our shareholders are descendants of the original Althams family. We have a lot of loyal customers, some are grandchildren of older clients.
Q. Any memorable bookings?
A. I remember two sisters who booked a round-the-world Concorde trip 30 years ago – for £29,000. They were the nicest ladies.
Q. What is your role now?
A. I’m one of two regional managers – the other is Sue Mulligan. I am on the road four days a week, visiting branches, and I have meetings with the managing director, so I see people across the business. One day a week is in head office, dealing with administration.
Our branches are as far as Lincolnshire, near Leeds Bradford airport, south Manchester and Chorley. I’m also responsible for UK sales, so I meet domestic operators such as Shearings.
We have a strong domestic focus, as it is a big market. We are members of Advantage. I attended their conference and made it on the front of Travel Weekly with Jerry Springer (May 17, 2018). And I’m a Tipto ambassador.
Q. How did you become a Tipto ambassador?
A. When they asked for ambassadors,
I submitted my name. We hold our own roadshows with Tipto, which are well supported by staff. I have been to events in 2018, including The Ivy in London. There are six ambassadors and we’ll work with Tipto in 2019, influencing their roadshows and incentives. I am really looking forward to working with them more in 2019. The ambassadors can help Tipto operators understand what agents are selling.
Q. Future plans?
A. I don’t plan to retire. As long as I am fit and healthy, I will be working. I drive about 20,000 business miles a year, but I always have a smile on my face. I can’t imagine being anywhere else and I have loved every moment working with Althams.
1976: Travel and tourism course, Bournemouth
1977: Joined Althams Travel one month after completing the course.
Beryl’s sales tips
Learn as much as you can from colleagues, training courses and educationals
There is competition from the internet so offer reasons to book with you – offer good service, listen and fulfil customers’ needs
We sell everything from coach trips to round-the-world cruises so you must be adaptable and have a passion for travel
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