Just five years ago Pure Destinations founder and director Lakh Hayer decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and set up his own travel agency.
While working at his parents’ agency, Airport Travel in West Bromwich, Lakh came up with the idea for a sub-brand, specialising in honeymoons.
He called it Honeymoon Dreams, adding: “I was 25 when I got married and was starting to book some of my friends’ honeymoons.”
He soon decided he wanted to expand further – by setting up his own travel agency.
After securing premises in a residential shopping square in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, Pure Destinations was born, with Honeymoon Dreams operating as a specialist online and call centre agency from the same premises.
The business Lakh started with just one other member of staff is now rapidly expanding, thanks in part to a decision to become a Kuoni partner store last year.
The Honeymoon Dreams call centre moved in November to a nearby location to accommodate its 11 staff, while Pure Destinations now has three shop-based staff.
“We tend to specialise in family holidays and anniversary holidays but we have an open-door policy,” he says.
To mark its becoming a Kuoni partner store – a tie-up that requires it to sell £1 million worth of Kuoni holidays within the first three years – the shop organised a red-carpet, celebratory party following a shop refit at the start of this year. As well as serving cosmopolitans and mojitos, customers were dished up stone-baked pizzas.
“We invited clientele who were new to us and sent out 70 boxes made with the Pure Destinations and Kuoni brand on them containing a selfie stick,” says Lakh.
“In total we had just under 100 people and gave away a holiday to Florence in a prize draw.”
The event was also photographed and videoed for the agency’s online blog.
The shop has already taken £200,000 worth of extra Kuoni business so far this year and overall sales are up.
The agency has been running an advertising campaign on Smooth Radio, has rebranded its website and is planning its first holiday brochure and a VIP-style consumer show in June.
“So far so good,” enthuses Lakh, who still remains hands-on in the business.
He adds: “I still sell holidays – sales are my passion. And I still put the rubbish out!”