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Readers’ Lives: Experience makes Scotia Travel a winner

Bill Tinto is operations manager of Glasgow-based Scotia TravelScotia Travel, winner of the best leisure agent award at this month’s Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association dinner, attributes its success to employing experienced staff and always keeping one eye on the future.

The Glasgow-based agency won the award for the third time, repeating its successes of 1999 and 2005.

Operations manager Bill Tinto said the secret of Scotia Travel’s longevity was highly experienced staff. “Our strength lies in our staff: I have been with the company for 45 years and so have several of the others.”

Scotia Travel, founded in 1938, was bought four years ago by City Site Estates, a commercial property investment company with interests in Express by Holiday Inn hotels. The company has given the agency the backing it needed to weather the recession, while other well-known Scottish agencies were forced out of business.

“There are failures happening every week. A lot of the well-known names are family businesses that have run their course. We have a strong parent company and that has benefited us in tough times,” said Tinto.

Based in Glasgow city centre, the agency has evolved from being a traditional shop to more of a consultancy-style, back-office business.

“It is more intimate now and people tend to come in by appointment rather than popping in off the street,” said Tinto.

The agency’s bread and butter is long-haul and cruise but it also has a strong golf product which attracts domestic and inbound travellers.

“Seven years ago we were very strong in bucket and spade holidays, but now we focus on bespoke long-haul and cruise,” Tinto added.

“We have a unique golf product that’s very stable. Scotland has very strong golf product but for inbound customers there haven’t been good connections in the past.
“Now with the low-cost carriers, we’re seeing more people coming over from places like the Netherlands.”

The next step for Scotia is the development of a new website with some new product, replacing its current “bulletin board-style” site.

“We still get excited, even after all this time,” added Tinto.

Football, religion, golf: Scotia Travel’s top deals

  • 1976: Organised travel for the European Cup Final in Glasgow
  • 1988: Organised the Baptist World Alliance gathering of 10,500 people for a week
  • 2000: Chartered the QE2 to provide accommodation for the Millennium Golf Championship at St Andrews

Tinto’s tips: Staying successful in tough times

  • Believe in what you do
  • Employ experienced staff – nothing beats experience
  • Keep up with the times – don’t shy away from new technology
  • Use email marketing – maximising a good customer database is essential

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