Tiffany Woodley is living proof that consumers will always want luxury holidays – even during the worst recession since the 1930s.

Having worked as sales and marketing manager for the luxury Six Senses Resorts & Spas for 10 years until 2007, Woodley spotted a gap in the market.

“I saw some clients were booking the hotel and sourcing the flights themselves, and I thought I could do that myself and make sure the clients are financially protected,” she said.

Woodley started off selling holidays from home in 2007 and decided to build on her success by opening Myriad Travel, an independent high street agency, in her home town of Liverpool in November last year. She now has three staff and a thriving business.

“Liverpool was sorely lacking in independent travel agents – there were less than a handful. There was a market for people wanting something more tailor-made, and to be looked after in a certain way,” she said.

“It was a step sideways for me because I knew how contracting and how hotels work.”

The challenge at first was to spread the word that she was open for business.

“We had a launch party and I did lots of networking. Then it was all about educating people that they can get something different from what the multiples offer. The ash cloud and the economy have been challenging, but we are 38% up on last year.”

Woodley specialises in long-haul tailor-made holidays and sells a lot of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. Weddings and honeymoons are an important market for her and she offers a honeymoon gift service.

“With lots of couples living together now, often they want guests to be able to contribute to their honeymoon. I give them the chance to buy the couple an experience, such as hot-air ballooning or a special meal. They can then take a picture of themselves enjoying the gift and use that as a thank you card.”

Her fresh ideas and added extras have helped Woodley grow a base of repeat clients.

And she added: “We will always go above and beyond for our clients – and that’s not just for the luxury ones.”

Woodley’s innovations

  • Honeymoon gift list – guests can choose a restaurant meal or special experience for the couple
  • £20 vouchers for referrals – people ask their friends and family for advice on their holidays, so word of mouth is essential
  • Afternoon teas in retirement homes – to reach new customers

Her top tips

  • Do your research in terms of the local area
  • Get into business networking: it’s vital that you get your name out there
  • Offer something different for your clients
  • Know your suppliers, especially the good ones who will help you when times are tough
  • Be hardworking: be prepared to work 24/7 to make your business grow
  • Be inventive: in Liverpool I’m the only agent who makes the most of wedding shows