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Agent Diary: ‘People really are desperate to confirm that long-awaited holiday in 2022!’

The first weeks of peaks have been really busy, with a buzzing shop, lots of enquiries and plenty of bookings, says Carla Hutchings, Luxury Travel Associate at Swords Travel in Bournemouth.

Wow, well peaks is back. I’m not really sure where January has gone to be honest, it’s been that busy.

The first week of the year, I was fortunate enough to be in Italy skiing. It was so lovely being back on the slopes. That PCR testing for UK arrivals was dropped by the time of my return was an added bonus which made coming home slightly less daunting.

We have had so many walk-in customers, which has been great to see – it really shows that confidence in travel is starting to come back with a bang

As I write this, my desk is full of enquiries. While this is my first January back as a travel agent, I feel confident to say peaks is definitely in full swing.

Last week, my phone didn’t stop ringing. I’ve been in the Wimbledon shop rather than working from home and have seen how buzzing the atmosphere has been. We have had so many walk-in customers, which has been great to see – it really shows that confidence in travel is starting to come back with a bang. And, usually within 24 hours, they have all been booking, so that proves how people really are desperate to confirm that long-awaited holiday in 2022!

Shop supporter

One customer chose to pop in to the shop to book because she wanted to support a local independent travel agency, and had seen that Swords Travel had won so many awards – not least being recognised as Independent Agency of the Year (high street) at the Aspire Awards run by Travel Weekly’s sister title in December.

January could end up being a fantastic month. Among my enquiries this week are lots of high-revenue quotes. Fingers crossed they all get confirmed and we have a really successful start to the year.

I love to travel to Europe, but given this recent price crunch I’m offering customers alternative long-haul destinations instead. The prices are just so much more competitive

There hasn’t really been one destination that has stood out in terms of popularity this month. However, I am finding that prices for luxury family hotels in Europe on school holiday dates are becoming very expensive. I love to travel to Europe, but given this recent price crunch I’m offering customers alternative long-haul destinations instead. The prices are just so much more competitive. Last week, I booked a few families to Mauritius, and Beachcomber Tours has been amazing with some great prices for peak dates. It’s also worth mentioning that they are an operator that answers the phone quickly!

Road trips

I have also been working on a lot of tailor-made itineraries recently. This is something I really enjoy quoting for. The US, and Hawaii in particular, is proving popular.

Having been to the West Coast and driven the Pacific Coast Highway, I enjoy talking to customers about Californian road itineraries – and being able to do so definitely helps convert those quotes to bookings.

When I suggested a self-drive of the US they didn’t seem too excited at first. However, after sharing my personal experience and suggesting great places where they could stop, they became much more excited

A honeymoon couple enquired with me this week and when I suggested a self-drive of the US they didn’t seem too excited at first. However, after sharing my personal experience and suggesting great places where they could stop, they became much more excited – and now seem really keen on the itinerary I’ve put together for them!

Given how busy peaks has been, it may be difficult to find the time to work on these bespoke itineraries. But given the rollercoaster of the past two years, I’m really pleased to be back doing what we all do best.


Chewton Glen

Laying on the luxury

As well as a busy peaks, I am delighted to be hosting my first luxury travel event next month. I have a great selection of luxury suppliers attending Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa on February 6. This will be a luxury-focused show as my business is set up in this market; it’s what I enjoy selling and I’m seeing a lot more higher-value bookings confirming this year.

I am delighted to be hosting my first luxury travel event next month. I have a great selection of luxury suppliers attending Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa on February 6

I have a range of hand-picked suppliers attending including Audley Travel, InsideAsia, Scenic, Tradewind Voyages and many more. I already have lots of customers signed up and I’m hoping it will be a great success with lots of business generated. Let’s hope it will be the first of many!

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