The top agency in the UK and Ireland was named in a virtual ceremony on Friday night along with the nation’s full Top 50 Travel Agencies and winners of three special categories
Claiming the title in this year was Swords Travel, Wimbledon.
The London-based agency was revealed as the overall winner of TTG’s Top 50 Travel Agencies 2020 at the Top 50 Travel Agencies ceremony on Friday (19 March).
Judges praised the Swords team for their entrepreneurial attitude to making the best of the Coronavirus crisis, a focus on staff mental health and commitment to sustainability, and their unwavering dedication to looking after customers.
Co-Managing director, Mark Swords, said: “This is the third time we’ve entered TTG Top 50 and we knew this year particularly was going to be tough. To win not just one but two awards completely shocked us. It means the world to us and definitely puts a more positive light on the past 12 months.”
Asked what he thought it was that made the agency stand out, Swords said: “Throughout this pandemic we have tried to remain consistently positive, and looked at ways in which we could benefit from the crisis.
“Stuart’s [co-managing director] amazing marketing skills really do help, he’s done us proud over the last year. Of course one of the biggest factors is having such amazing people in our business, which we are so proud of.
“Having the support of Gary [Lewis], Steph [Slark] and all the team at Travel Network group has been fantastic – they live and breathe travel like us, and have remained consistent in supporting us since we joined TTA five years ago.
“Last but not least, thank you to TTG for your positivity, support, advice and constant lobbying of government over the last year. What you have done has really made a difference to our industry.”
Swords said the evening of the ceremony was “chaotic” with team calls and social media, plus plenty of celebratory fizz.
He added: “Once restrictions are lifted we plan to celebrate massively together, and this year is our fifth anniversary of Swords Travel – double celebrations.”
TTG editor Sophie Griffiths said: “Mark and Stuart are a shining example of a successful high street travel agency.
“We hope winning this prestigious title will see Swords Travel soar to even greater heights, as the travel industry starts to get back on its feet over the coming months.”
During the ceremony, the winners of the Contribution to Travel Award and the Customer Service Champion and Community Hero categories were also revealed.
Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, received the Contribution to Travel award following an impressive number of nominations.
These recognised Dobson’s tireless efforts to support the travel industry throughout the pandemic, lobbying government, and also protecting many jobs within Barrhead itself by securing a contract to allow furloughed employees to work for the NHS in contact tracing and the vaccine rollout.
Dobson said: “I am so honoured to have been presented with TTG’s Contribution to Travel Award.
“It is very humbling to be recognised by my industry peers and colleagues – particularly during a year which has presented the most challenges in memory for our industry.
“I’m so proud to lead a team of passionate travel professionals and I’m looking forward to sunnier days ahead and to building back travel together.”
Sarah Davis, a Personal Travel Agent at Co-operative Travel, was named Community Hero in recognition of her fundraising efforts to help a tour guide and his family in Bali when their livelihood was lost due to a lack of tourists during the height of the Covid-19 crisis and they were forced out of their village to try to make a living.
Helen Dooley, partner at More Travel in Stamford, was named Customer Service Champion 2020. She packed up her own suitcase when a client’s granddaughter left hers – critically filled with her beloved toys – at Paris’ Gare de Lyon. Dooley headed to the French capital with her own son in tow, retrieved the suitcase and delivered it back to a very happy little girl.
Click here to see the complete TTG Top 50 list for 2021.