A businessman who presented a session at The Global Travel Group’s conference in May was so inspired by the travel industry that he has now set up an agency of his own.
Darren Hepburn, sales director of email marketing company NewZapp, said he was “blown away” by what he heard from agents at the conference in Dubai, and subsequently struck up conversation with the consortium, including managing director Andy Stark.
Soon afterwards Hamilton Holidays was born, and domains were acquired for future spin-off brands including Hamilton Cruises and Hamilton Honeymoons.
Hepburn will run the business from home with his wife Louisa, whose family have the Hamilton name.
The couple still needs to complete Global’s two-week training for new members, but will then use the consortium’s Atol, Hepburn said.
Hepburn told TTG: “I was at the conference and kept hearing more and more about how effective social media, email marketing and networking can be for travel businesses. It dawned on me that I wasn’t a million miles away from having enough tools to make running a travel business work for me.
“I obviously need to be taught the travel agency side of it and Global seemed to be the right business to help me with that.”
The Hepburns will initially focus on selling the types of destinations they are familiar with, through being well-travelled themselves.
They will focus on selling bespoke holiday packages featuring “everything from husky sledging in Sweden to cruising around the Caribbean”.
The pair said the plan was to run a largely local operation, visiting clients at their homes or in cafes and restaurants in and around their home of Exeter.
They will also market the brand online and may sell packages through their website in due course.
Hepburn said if the demand was there further down the line he would consider hiring more staff and taking on an office or shop front in Exeter.
He also dismissed concerns about opening a travel business in the current sociopolitical climate. “We are 100% convinced about doing this.
“The agents I’ve spoken to in the past few years have indicated that even with all the various things going on, people are still going on holiday.
“Holidays are what I call a dream sell.”