New London travel agency aims to reinvent high street

A new travel agency has opened in London which promises to fit customers’ changing attitudes to travel during the economic downturn.

Long-established touroperator Emerald Global has opened its first retail store, peoplestravel, in Baker Street.

In a departure from the traditional agency layout, the shop has white walls which act as large–scale movie screens, a ‘blog wall‘ where travellers can post recommendations and a screening lounge where clients can see destination or cruise ship videos.

General manager Alyn Burgess said: “We are aware people’s attitude to travel is changing. Travel will become a more aspirational buy, so they will be more careful about how they spend their money and will want to spend longer researching their destination.”

The store has 2,000sq feet of space for displays,which currently featuresa model of a Singapore Airlines aircraft.

From January, peoplestravel will work with a range of tour operators and tourist boards to host themed events with activities such as food tasting, lectures from explorers or dance classes.

“The idea is to bring together the destinations, suppliers and agents and build a space where we can work together,” said Burgess.

Owner Joe Wong has brought in staff from Emerald Global‘s head office and employed new agents who specialisein luxury cruise and gay travel. There are no normal brochures on display, but a collection of miniature brochures the size of business cards.

“We want to change the way clients think about travel. We don’t want people just to collect brochures and leave with no idea of what’s going on in the destination,” said Burgess.

“Customers are invited to have a coffee and a chat with a consultant, watch a DVD on a sofa or browse our touch–screen computers.”

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