Scots travel group riding high as UK travel industry stagnates
Scotland’s largest independent travel group, Barrhead Travel, has recorded a 19% increase in bookings compared with summer 2010, bucking the UK trend with recent figures from the Office of National Statistics indicating holiday sales have increased just 1%.
The Scots travel group has also confirmed a high number of early bookings for summer 2012 and is projecting final sales revenue for 2011 to be £130 million – a 30% increase year on year.
The company’s success is being largely attributed to its diverse business model and product development, including an expansion of its specialist areas, such as the cruise, Canadian and long haul markets.
Chief executive of Barrhead Travel, Sharon Munro, said: “The travel market has been evolving over the past few years. Customers are looking for flexibility of dates and more choice, and are placing more value on the product selection, security and financial assurance available from independent travel agents, rather than package holiday operators. We have diversified our business model to offer customers the best of both worlds. Our specialist advisors are trained to package together bespoke holidays, with everything from duration and destination to accommodation and activities tailored to each individual’s needs. We only work with suppliers who are ATOL and ABTA registered, and all of Barrhead Travel’s holidays offer financial peace of mind through our exclusive Total Trip Protection.
“Cost is a major issue for many people, especially in the current climate, and as the largest independent agent in the country, we have formidable buying power, are able to offer impartial advice and recommend the best value product to our customers.”
Results from a recent report by independent research firm, Mintel, also showed over half of all UK holidaymakers think there is so much information available on the internet it’s hard to know what is reliable. Two thirds prefer to book through travel agents, believing it saves time, hassle and money, compared with doing it themselves online, which offers no redress if things go wrong.
Sharon continued: “Although around 40% of Barrhead Travel’s bookings now come from our websites, we know that many people find the internet daunting. While there is still demand for the traditional package holiday, the market is more segmented than it was a few years ago. We recognise it is no longer enough to offer straightforward ‘bucket and spade’ holidays, and have differentiated our product range to suit the broad spectrum of consumer needs. This new flexible business model has proved extremely successful for us so far and we will build on this with further investment to continue driving growth across the whole business.”
Now one of the largest independent travel agencies in Europe, Barrhead Travel has continued to expand its operations throughout the economic downturn, opening 6 new stores plus various franchise outlets across Scotland and Northern Ireland and increasing staff numbers to 550 in the last 12 months.