Swords Travel is to work with Myriad Travel under its expanding associates programme as the Liverpool agency evolves into a new way of doing business.
Liverpool-based Myriad Travel left its shop premises and switched to an office-only set up in 2019, but this year also saw a reduction in team numbers that meant Jessica Matthews was running the business on her own.
Matthews will now wind down the Myriad business and instead plug into the support of Swords Travel’s new initiative, which was started this year for independent agents to tap into as an umbrella for admin, marketing and business support.
Myriad Travel was started in 2007 by Matthews’ mother Tiffany Woodley, who took on a new job outside of travel this year.
“Mum started a new role and loves it so much she has decided not to come back, and our colleague Steph also left this year during the crisis, so it makes more sense for me to switch to working with Swords,” said Matthews.
“It felt like too much to take care of all admin, accounts and the business side of things as well as sales and taking care of our customers. Swords is such a brilliant equivalent to Myriad when it comes to customer service and passion. Now I can continue working with my luxury clients without the business worries.”
Swords Travel is run by Mark and Stuart Swords, who have a shop in south Wimbledon they have tirelessly tried to keep open when possible this year around lockdown guidelines.
Mark Swords and Matthews met on a TTG Luxury Journeys fam trip earlier this year to the Maldives, exploring three resorts there just before the pandemic started to take hold.
There are now six associates, including Matthews, but Mark said it was unlikely to grow to more than 10.
“We want to keep it small and work with just a few like-minded industry professionals as a niche luxury travel business,” Mark said. “Stuart and I are looking more to the overall strategic future for the business now, and supporting the associates to do what they love when it comes to selling holidays and providing social media and marketing support and helping them plug into training and supplier opportunities.”
The Swords have also used quieter times this year as an opportunity to refresh their CRM and back office systems, and focus on website updates and social media strategy.
They have also been running destination webinars to give clients inspiration, which have resulted in some healthy bookings.
“I’m thankful that despite a terrible year, business in December is looking on track to be the same as last year – despite challenges such as the recent change in travel corridor on the Canaries,” Mark said. “Luckily, we managed to change some clients to Dubai instead, but it was a big blow.”
The Swords Associates meet virtually with Mark and Stuart once a week for business updates and training and on Fridays for a more social update, with hopes of an overseas trip together next year.
“We have completely changed our business model this year and feel that you have to keep innovating and assessing how you do things,” added Stuart Swords, whose specialisation in the business is marketing and creative direction.
Both Swords and Myriad have been finalists and winners of several TTG awards over the years – in 2016, Matthews won TTG’s Young Travel Agent of the Year and made it into TTG’s Top 30 under 30 in 2017, which she said was “one of my career highlights”.
Swords Travel was the winner of Luxury Travel Agency of the Year (sole store) in the 2020 TTG Luxury Travel Awards, and has just been announced as a shortlisted agent in two categories for TTG’s Top 50 Travel Agencies 2021. Myriad is also a past Top 50 and TTG Luxury Travel Awards finalist.
“I’m thrilled that these brilliant agencies have come together to help each other and find a new way of doing business, and even more delighted they met on one of our trips!” said April Hutchinson, editor of TTG Luxury, who also co-hosted the Maldives fam.
“All of us have kept in touch with Whatsapps and Zoom calls during these difficult months, and I’m absolutely delighted that something as positive as Jess and Mark now working together has also come out of it.”