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Agency hopes to take on second shop months after high street debut

A travel agency is looking to expand and take on a second shop just months after opening on the high street for the first time.

Your Perfect Travel opened on the high street in Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire in May, having delayed the move to the high street by a year due to the pandemic.

Prior to that the business, which started in 2013 as a Not Just Travel franchisee and moved to Hays Independence Group last year, operated from home.

Managing director Norma Fenwick said she had no regrets about opening a bricks-and-mortar agency despite the delayed restart of international travel.

She said: “It’s been amazing. I opened in May as I thought travel was reopening on May 17. We made £48,000 in sales in the first two weeks of opening, some for immediate travel. It’s been worthwhile in terms of the number of people coming into the shop.”

She added: “We have got a good location and you cannot drive through Sawbridgeworth without seeing the shop. I have got a loyal customer base and having a high street presence has helped with brand awareness.”

Fenwick is currently in discussions to take on an existing travel agency in the area which would be rebranded under Your Perfect Travel.

She added: “I would like to expand further. Around half a dozen agencies would be the ideal size.”

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Pictured left to right: Danielle Payne, Norma Fenwick, Laura Staniland

Fenwick was confident there was now “a light at the end of the tunnel” for agents as consumers turn to professionals for advice on travel in the current environment, despite the trade having endured a “tough 18 months”.

She said: “I don’t think it’s doom and gloom. It’s been a difficult time but people are starting to travel now and business is out there for the taking. During the pandemic we found people wanted to book with an agent and we got new clients who would have booked online before.”

Fenwick is also recruiting agents for her separate, joint travel agency business, Wanderluxe Travel, launched in July last year with fellow Hays IG member Scott Murray.

The group offers ‘partner’ agents marketing support and training, a customised website, emergency 24/7 customer support and access to a concierge team. Agents can use the Wanderluxe name or retain their own brand.

“We made a decision not to promote the business during the pandemic, we didn’t feel comfortable doing that, but now we are looking to promote it more,” she said.

The group currently has four homeworkers but is looking to take on between 25 and 35 agents, with at least two or three years’ experience, including those with shops or working from home.

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