Youth brand Kilroy targets STA Travel market with UK launch

A Scandinavian youth and student travel brand called Kilroy will open an agency in Bristol as part of its “ambitious” growth plans in the UK market.

It aims to fill the gap left by youth agency and operator STA Travel, which ceased trading in August 2020.

Headquartered in Copenhagen, Kilroy operates in seven Nordic and Benelux markets, describing itself as the “leading youth and student travel brand in northern Europe”.

Former STA Travel executive John McCoach has been hired as a consultant to help launch the brand in the UK, along with ex-Sabre sales specialist, Niclas Lundquist, who has joined as head of commercial operations.

Hollie Youlden, formerly On The Go Tours’ marketing manager, has also been recruited to drive brand awareness.

More: STA Travel was struggling ‘long before Covid’

STA Travel ceases trading

A flight-only website launched in January this year and recruitment has begun for the first store, which is scheduled to open in Bristol in the second quarter of 2023.

“As a city it ticks all the boxes, with a young and vibrant demographic and prominent universities in or near the city,” said Lundquist.

“Our plans for the UK are ambitious and we aim to serve the market nationwide over time.”

He said Kilroy is “continuously evaluating new opportunities throughout the UK” and is looking at other locations.

“With news of Kilroy entering the UK, we’ve been positively surprised by the interest in us and not the least from former STA employees,” he added.

“It’s great to see people considering coming back to our industry.”

Claus H. Hejlesen, chief executive of the Kilroy Group, added: “The potential and market size for youth and student travel in the UK is unmatched by any of our other markets.

“There are approximately 2.75 million students enrolled in higher education in the UK, compared to 842,800 in the Netherlands and 150,643 in Denmark – currently Kilroy’s largest two markets.

“We believe that with the knowledge and expertise of John McCoach, Niclas Lundquist and Hollie Youlden, and our dedication to providing a top-notch travel experience, we will be able to establish ourselves as a leading player in the UK’s youth and student travel industry.”

McCoach added: “Having spent many years in the youth and student travel industry, I’m excited to be a part of Kilroy’s expansion into the UK, filling a huge gap in this specialist market segment.

“The exit of STA Travel in 2020 left a void in this space that Kilroy is well-equipped to fill, drawing on its decades of expertise.

“There’s a surging demand among young travellers for tailored, meaningful travel experiences.”

Lundquist said the company offers a wide choice, from round-the-world trips to tailor-made tours, working holidays and educational trips, with most customers aged 18 to 35.

“It can easily become overwhelming to put together an itinerary yourself without ever having visited any of the places,” he said.

“We can offer a personalised approach through our travel advisors, many whom have travelled with Kilroy themselves.”

He said a ‘Kilroy Lab’ team in Copenhagen develops new products and services, such as a the recent ‘Tripmates’ offering which finds travelling companions for solo holidaymakers.

Pictured from left: John McCoach, Niclas Lundquist and Hollie Youlden

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