The Travel Village Group threw a glitzy party for nearly 500 industry members at the iconic Blackpool Tower last night to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary.
Guests were treated to a Champagne reception before entering the ballroom for a three-course meal at the historic venue in the town where the business started.
The Travel Village Group – includes The Cruise Village, Rivercruising.co.uk, and the Holiday Village brands – first launched as Bourne Travel in 1959 after his grandfather Eric Bourne developed a passion for selling travel from his post office.
Phil Nuttall, the group’s chief executive, regaled guests with stories from each of the business’ six decades after beginning the evening by playing The Liberty Bell on the famous Wurlitzer.
Speaking on stage an emotional Nuttall spoke about the family-owned business’s journey from its days as Bourne Travel to The Travel Village Group as it is known today.
He also revealed how his parents managed to organise direct flights from Blackpool to Spain during the package holiday boom.
He said: “Mum’s relationship with Thomson Holidays, Intasun and Enterprise Holidays was special and was so strong it was not long before she managed to get flights from Blackpool to the Costas and almost singlehandedly booked every flight.”
Nuttall singled out industry stalwart Trevor Davis for praise when the then-International Leisure Group (ILG) account manager told his parents in 1991 not to pay off their credit account.
ILG was hours away from collapsing and Davis had been instructed to collect cash from each of his accounts.
“There was the fall of Harry Goodman and ILG and Intasun Holidays when the banks pulled the plug,” Nuttall said. “With the winter programme we had a very large credit account which had to be paid by the eighth of every month.
“To this day, our family will be forever indebted to Trevor Davis who made the call on March 7 1991 to my mum to say ‘don’t send the cheque – we are going to go’.”
Davis later said on stage that Bourne had been the “perfect” account.
“I thought to myself ‘well, I am out of the job anyway’ so I just said ‘don’t even think about paying this bill,” he said. “I locked that story away and I had not even told my wife Mandy about that – until tonight.”
Nuttall thanked the room packed full of suppliers and other agencies for their support of the business.
“It’s hard to believe that in six months’ time we will be in the 2020s,” he said. “What we have not lost in the travel industry as we head to a new decade is everything that Eric stood for: vision, passion, resilience, loyalty and an openness to new ideas and trends.
“But most of all, Eric made sure that his customers were the most important people in his business.
“He understood that the success and longevity of any business can only be sustained if customer care comes first.”