HLC Holsworthy Travel Limited

Travelling in the right direction

No one could have anticipated that an Icelandic volcano would erupt sending a cloud of unwelcome ash into the atmosphere. Few would have realised the impact it was going to have on the travel business and its customers, some stranded overseas as airlines grounded their fleets, others stuck in the UK vainly waiting for their holiday trip to commence.

Fewer still would have gone to the lengths that HLC HolsworthyTravel went to in order to engage with their customers during this difficult time as managing director Emma Blight and her team contacted every single one of them to offer advice and give them the comfort that there was someone, somewhere, they could talk to. In fact, despite having customers stuck as far afield as Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand and the Canaries, the dedicated team missed just one travelling couple, but they had already secured their return flight.

Their customer-centred approach to providing travel services is what marks Holsworthy Travel out as a bit special. It is an independent business and not governed by corporate directives. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, no one telling them who they can deal with and no externally set targets to meet that can influence the advice a travel agent provides.

Emma chooses which tour operators she wants to work with and, in so doing, is able to give her customers what they want. She said: ‘We provide a truly personal service bringing our experience to bear on the advice we give. We will sit and talk to our customers until we build a picture of the type of holiday they really want and then we’ll start to source it rather than sell them the easiest package available. Just because it’s not in a brochure doesn’t mean we can’t do it.’

It’s a competitive business which is under challenge from the Internet based holiday offers but, as Emma points out, those who thought they were getting a bargain by booking through cyberspace neither had the face-to-face expertise to ensure that they get what they want nor the comfort of having someone to turn to in times of crisis.

37 year-old Emma has already been in the business a long time, having joined Holsworthy Travel as a 16 year-old on a YTS Scheme. When founder Ron Gerry decided to retire, she took the big step of acquiring the business and building on its reputation for diverse, but highly professional, travel services. Emma continued, ‘We are very lucky to cover all types of holidays and travel options from weekend breaks in London to bespoke holidays and round-the-world tours. People are attracted by a combination of our independent advice and the depth of knowledge we have built up.

“I’m very proud of my team of Sabrina Yeo, Suzanne Colwill and Sarah Troke, counter staff travel advisers and Tracy Barr who looks after our administration and accounts. ‘I consider we have a sixth member of the team in Jon House of Simpkins Edwards who has provided absolutely invaluable guidance, support and straight-talking in the four years since he became our accountant and business advisor. My expertise is in travel not in figures and Jon gives me the confidence of knowing our business decisions and the direction in which we are going are on the right lines.’

Emma’s positive approach is based on the knowledge that ‘you can’t afford to stand still’ – so she’s not. The business is now developing new products including mystery weekends and other escorted coach tours and 2010 sees Holsworthy Travel’s third exclusive tour when Emma and her husband Julian depart with a group of holidaymakers for a bespoke visit to Boston, USA, having previously visited South Africa and Canada.

Emma Blight has a solid business based on sound principles of personal service supported by a real depth of product knowledge. Her business is certainly travelling in the right direction having been recognised by Gold Medal Travel as the No.1 agent for Australia and New Zealand in Devon and Cornwall.

For further information on HLC Holsworthy Travel Ltd please call 01409 253 962.