Sarah Reeves of Swords Travel, Wimbledon shares her excitement about opening her agency’s first shop and high-value 2020 bookings

I’ve just returned to work after three weeks off with the kids and it couldn’t be busier.

As well as the unavoidable mountain of emails to plough through, we are getting ready to open our first high street shop, in Wimbledon, this week.

Our team has now expanded from two to five, so we thought it was the right time to invest in bricks and mortar, having previously worked from offices, selling holidays over the phone, email and by appointment.

The team has worked incredibly hard in finding the right premises and getting the right look for the shop. It’s modern, clean and bright, and, most importantly, we have proper coffee and a champagne bar!

Even though we haven’t opened officially yet, the feedback from our clients has been really positive and they’re exited to come and see us.

Customer service

With so many high street shops closing, it’s a positive move and one which champions the value of face-to-face customer service. We know that so many of our customers prefer coming to see us in person, especially if they’re spending a lot of money, and it will give us better working relationships with the reps as they’ll have somewhere to come and see us.

For me personally, it’s taking me back to the place I’ve always felt most comfortable – the shop floor. It’s where I started out when I joined Lunn Poly in the 1990s, so I’m ready to meet clients and make them feel special as soon as they walk through the door.

By the time you read this, we’ll know if we’ve taken home a gong from the Aspire Awards. Hopefully we will have and it would be amazing to have a nice shiny award to display in our new shop!

But even if we’re not successful we have plenty to keep us smiling. We’ve had some lovely high-value 2020 bookings, which is brilliant. But, as ever, we are still competing with the online giants.

Converting enquiries

Some clients are still not aware they’re not always covered when they buy flights and accommodation separately. We work so hard on these bookings, so it’s frustrating when they go home and book online, making it more important than ever to convert as many enquiries as we can.

We talk to clients and ask exactly what it is they’re looking for. We offer three options – ‘good’, ‘better’ and ‘best’ – while always trying to keep within budget and meeting their requirements.

It doesn’t always work, of course, but I’m feeling positive about the weeks and months ahead. Hopefully you are too.


The Italian job averts crisis

Never mind the Eternal City, we have clients who should be eternally grateful to us! A customer had booked to go on holiday for his 10th wedding anniversary to Italy. It was a brilliant itinerary and we booked everything – the restaurants, spa and activities.

Then we got a call at 8am on the Sunday from the client to tell us he’d missed his outbound flight and didn’t know what to do. No problem. Mark contacted Azure Collection and they got the client on the next flight. This showed brilliantly how travel agents work.

We will help our clients out at any time of the day. Imagine how disappointed he’d have been if he couldn’t go. With some quick thinking we sorted it out. It’s been said often, but in a holiday crisis, booking with an agent is invaluable.