It’s the beaming smiles that catch your eye when you walk through the door of Stewart Travel in Prestwick.
Prestwick is where the Stewart Travel story started in 1972. Last refitted about 15 years ago it is, by senior retail manager Donna Bicker’s own admission, a little “retro”.
A sturdy counter runs the whole length of the shop, while the brochure racks at the rear are set at a slight angle. They draw your eye – it’s a conscious decision to encourage interaction and conversation.
The giant map on the opposite wall, meanwhile, serves as inspiration to customers and staff alike. Donna’s team also update the shopfront daily.
This agency punches considerably above its weight as the group’s second-highest earner. Together, the team share more than 140 years’ travel experience. What is truly impressive, though, is their thirst to learn, develop and continue acquiring knowledge.
Stewart affords staff five days’ paid educational trips a year, and everyone gets away at least once. Staff then share their new-found expertise with their colleagues and write up their experiences for the group intranet.
Training, meanwhile, is allocated according to greatest need and fed back to the team. Staff also complete plenty of online courses, with a particular focus of late on cruise, and regularly attend industry and supplier events in Glasgow.
Prestwick’s in-store and partner events are popular and well-attended, pairing prospective clients with suppliers such as Silversea and Emerald Waterways, while Jet2holidays jeans and T-shirt Saturdays are always popular, lively events too.
Day-to-day customer service is exemplary. Guests are invited to luxuriate in one of the store’s comfy seats and enjoy a tea or coffee – or a wine or beer after midday – while staff will initially put keyboards and mice aside for a proper face-to-face consultation.
“They’re here to talk about their holiday, not their mortgage,” says Donna.
Tickets are frequently hand-delivered and welcome home calls are standard, as is online check-in – day, night or weekends. Facebook is monitored constantly too, ensuring a near instant message response rate.
It’s easy to see why then this hard-working, dedicated agency – which supports local children through the Cash for Kids charity, as well as Ayrshire Hospice, and its festive open days – maintains a healthy 75% of its business from repeat clients.