The married former holiday reps have 10 years’ experience in travel between them and will operate out of Swords Travel Lounge, near Wimbledon Park, from April 26.
Mark Swords told TTG the lounge would help ensure clients get to know them as individuals.
“This will be our first high street presence,” he said. “We started from home targeting Wimbledon as we knew the market. We do lots of business networking – we’re active in the community. Initially, we did a lot of honeymoons [the couple founded samesexholidays.co.uk in June 2016] but we’ve gained trade from families.
“It dawned on us people wanted to see us face-to-face, especially given the amount of money they were spending.
“We didn’t want to be a traditional retail business so we had to find a middle-ground providing that personal experience customers want – so that’s where the lounge concept comes in.”
Quality is a mantra for the agency, Swords said – “quality suppliers, quality operators, quality time, quality experience, quality product, quality premises”.
“Customers will be able to have a two-hour slot with us,” he said. “It’s about people’s time. Things are always changing in travel. This is the next logical step for us.”
The lounge will be kitted out with sofas, TV screens and personalised decor.
“We’re avoiding lots of gaudy tour operator branding,” said Swords. “Instead, we’re covering the walls with images from our own travels.”
The pair will also bring in technology to help customers.
“We use a piece of software called Wetu to bring itineraries together and then bring them up on a screen,” said Swords. “It’s so much more immersive.”
He said the business had tripled sales turnover between January 2017 and January 2018 and that once the lounge was established, the agency might look to expand in south-west London and potentially into Surrey too.
There are also plans to tweak the website to make it more “content rich”, with greater focus on the pair’s blog posts and videos.