Comment: Agility is key to trade success

Success of Rangers charter flights shows opportunities are there for the taking, says Barrhead Travel’s Jacqueline Dobson

We speak a lot about agility in the travel industry – flexing to customers’ needs and changing to meet markets and environments. Adaptability has also been a buzzword over the last few years as we’ve adapted our business models to some of the most changing and challenging situations.

Recently, I was thinking about how it can be easy to conflate agility and adaptability. To me, adaptability was what was needed to steer through the pandemic when we didn’t quite know what was round the corner. As we move further into the recovery phase, I believe we’ve transitioned from adaptability to agility mode.

MoreBarrhead sees demand surge for Rangers’ European final


Being agile doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel or bending beyond what you can deliver. It’s about identifying the opportunities on your doorstep and being able to devise effective plans with the resources you have to hand. In times like these, where time is precious and good resource management is fundamental, being agile when it comes to spotting opportunities is key.

Rangers joy

I was reminded of our agency’s agility and the importance of being able to react to events unfolding with the success in European competition of one of Scottish football’s Old Firm giants. Last month, Glasgow Rangers made it to the Uefa Europa League final in Seville.

For those unfamiliar with the Scottish football scene, this was simply historic – the first Scottish team to reach the final for almost two decades. Rangers’ semi‑final win was thrilling and exceptional – a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many fans. And for the travel sector, it was a great result too as it helped create fruitful opportunities for regional businesses.

Match sharp

At Barrhead Travel, sports travel isn’t necessarily one of our specialisms, but having decades of experience in chartering flights, a wide network of partnerships and a creative team were on our side.

I’m still blown away by how quickly our team reacted to the situation overnight. Rangers played the semi-final late on the Thursday evening and by 9.30am the following morning, plans were in motion to charter several flights.

Our teams worked night and day to bring the complex operation to life, drawing on our past knowledge of chartering flights, reaching out to partners and demonstrating exceptional teamwork.

I think Seville was the excitement we all needed to help kick-start the summer season. Our branches were buzzing with customers queuing out the door: it felt like peaks. As travel agents we often say we make dreams come true every day, and this was a tangible example.

Brand winner

We made a brave decision to put our expertise to use for Rangers fans and the project was a real success. Our agility allowed us to maximise an opportunity. And it didn’t end after the match concluded and fans returned home. The brand recognition we received and the new customers we have secured because of our service is fantastic. If anything, we were able to prove the benefits of using a reputable travel agent who will always put the customer first.

We’re working on our agility across the business – it’s not just reserved for unexpected football wins or market fluctuations. It’s also about spotting opportunities through product diversification, maximising our partnerships and utilising our customer database for cross-marketing. Being agile will help us thrive and I’m excited to open the door and explore what possibilities might lie ahead if we can be reactive to our market.

There are still obstacles to overcome during 2022, but I believe being reactive to opportunities that come our way will support a healthy recovery over the next 12 months. I don’t believe there’s any industry quite like travel when it comes to taking on a challenge. Be agile, be confident and be bold – and don’t let a good opportunity pass you by.

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