As we wind down for the Christmas period, it’s our tradition to look back over the last year, as well as thinking towards the future. 2023 has been jam-packed, as our most successful year ever, based on our core values of great service, the right products and excellent personal knowledge.
Although these have been central to our business for thirty years, we must be conscious that our businesses evolve and society evolves. Yes, we’ll continue to offer great service, have the right range of partners and continue having great product knowledge, but in the modern world both we and our clients expect more.
That’s why this year we have built upon this, with our industry-leading efforts in promoting responsible travel and how we can all travel more sustainably. We have only just got started, and we have some great ideas on how to amplify the message, both locally in our community in and around Berkhamsted, and also to the wider travel industry.
We were so pleased to be recognised for the work we’re already doing, with Ashley recently winning an award for his contribution to responsible travel, which included speaking alongside Eleni from the Greek Tourist Board (above) at ABTA’s Carbon Literacy Day. He also contributed to a roundtable at ABTA in September on Animal Welfare and completed the TTG Sustainable Travel Ambassadors course in the summer.
For us, it’s key to maintain strong relationships within the industry. This year has seen us attend more events than ever – just a selection with the Advantage team at the Inclusive Collection (formerly AM Resorts – Dreams, Secrets, Zoetry) summer party, and the Agent Achievement Awards with our friends at Caribtours. They were not the only awards we went to, with TTG Luxury taking place in March, and the TTG Top 50 in April. These are just the tip of the iceberg – with training events with Elounda Hotels, AE Expeditions, Caribtours, Kirker Holidays, Jamaica (Luxury) Tourist Board and Jetset.
It’s been another key year for cruising – with Jackie sailing on Regent for the first time in the summer. Ashley also got to visit quite a number of different ships throughout the year including Hurtigruten’s Maud (no HX Expeditions), Silversea, Hapag Lloyd and Regent’s Navigator and Splendor in Venice. We have taken this further with the many trips we have taken this year – with Ashley heading to Crete, Tenerife, Berlin, Copenhagen, Venice and Scotland this year, with Jackie taking her ski group to France in March, and her frequent trips to Portugal.
As a business, we continue to grow. 2023 was our most successful year ever, even with the backdrop of negative news stories and the tail of COVID-19, which still affects how we travel. It’s great to have Tricia with us, who works remotely – predominately from Portugal. We also continue our community outreach – most notably with the Princes’ Trust. We mentor students who are on a short programme aimed at getting young adults into the workplace – many of whom have special educational needs, disabilities or have had a disadvantaged upbringing.
Travel is back to full force, although it has been in full force for us since September 2021, over two years ago. At first, many wanted just very simple holidays with the assistance of a professional who knew the ins and outs of the travel system at the time. Now many have travelled a few times, the quest for adventure is returning with more looking for holidays that are more than just a beach. Again, this isn’t always easy to do, so many are returning (or discovering) that an agent is well-placed to help them put this all together.