Mark and Stuart Swords only opened their new travel lounge just over a year ago, having started out as homeworkers, but have already built up a strong reputation in Wimbledon and beyond.
After a phenomenally successful first year, they have their sights set on a new high street store and have taken on two new agents to help with their burgeoning list of clients. The popular pair are no strangers to hard work, with Mark committing to early-morning BNI (Business Network International) meetings and Swords Travel having a presence at “nearly every school summer fete” in the area in 2018.
The agency has migrated onto the Wetu interactive itinerary planner, offering customers a sleek, modern means of browsing the agent’s suggestions, and a large screen in the lounge allows the team to present to customers in a relaxed atmosphere.
The customer books an appointment in advance and is given the agency’s undivided attention, or can be visited at home if it’s more convenient.
Both Mark and Stuart get out to as many industry training events as possible, soaking up updates from suppliers and feeding back what they’ve learnt to one another and the team. The agency has even invested in a business coach to help it optimise its plans for the future.
Excellent customer service is second nature here, with Stuart’s role that of a concierge, organising everything from creches to hot air balloon rides for bookers. The pair will always endeavour to “surprise and delight”, even sending a copy of The Island – a novel set in Crete – to one customer, as they thought she’d enjoy reading it while away.
Sometimes they’ll send hardback Lonely Planet books too, to inspire customers for their next adventure. Even when Stuart and Mark were away in Australia in December, they gave themselves the working hours of 7pm to 1am, to correspond with UK business hours.
The Swords are passionate about giving back too, with Stuart signing up to the London Marathon for 2019, aiming to raise £2,500 for male cancer charity Orchid.