FRED Olsen Travel agents are to introduce a book exchange service that offers customers the chance to swap their holiday reads.

The chain, which has seven branches in Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe and Wolverhampton, came up with the idea after a brainstorming seminar with Soham-based grocery retailer Jonathan James.

The scheme – which would involve customers bringing their book into their local branch and exchanging it for another book to take on holiday – is one of 25 ideas aimed at getting the agencies closer to customers.

Other plans include singles evenings with presentations from tour operators, dressing up windows in mid-summer with Christmas decorations to encourage clients to book ski and winter breaks, or linking up with event organisers to sell tickets to local fireworks displays and fairs.

Fred Olsen’s retail manager Louise Linney said: “It is trying to get us all to stop and think about all the things we could be doing. It’s the first time we have brought someone in from outside the sector and everyone clicked so well with what Jonathan said.

“We’ve sent the ideas to staff in each branch and hope they’ll all give at least three or four of them a go.” 

James, a speaker at the recent Triton conference, said: “The seminar went like a dream and it was great to see the agents all buzzing with ideas. Everyone was on a high and talking about what they could do in their shops.”

To demonstrate what other non-travel retailers already offer James invited Clacton-on-Sea Budgens retailer Dee Patel to share his ideas. “He found the similarities between the sectors uncanny,” added James.

  • Fred Olsen Travel is opening an agency in Jarrolds departments store in Norwich on August 12. The site is being fitted with plasma screen advertising being trialled in other Advantage stores.