Designer Travel’s business model includes a shop in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, and a team of 51 homeworkers from around the UK.
The Ramsbottom store has been deliberately designed “not to look like a travel agent”, with chandeliers, slate flooring and laptops to attract an upmarket clientele and discourage those looking for a cheap bargain break.
The philosophy is only to sell genuine luxury products, with a particular focus on family holidays, honeymoons and tailor-made itineraries. Having high service standards in the luxury market is crucial – including being available 24/7, with customers given their consultant’s mobile phone number.
Other “standard” services include handling customers’ visas and advance passenger information (API), booking chauffeur transfers and printing boarding passes.
Agents also deal with all sorts of other enquiries from clients: examples include flying out Brussels sprouts for a Christmas dinner in Anguilla or importing a specific brand of nappies from the US for a family staying in the Caribbean.
Making sure they only take on the right agents is vital to Designer’s strategy, with the philosophy being “we will only grow if we take on nice people”, rather than setting specific recruitment targets every year.
Designer operates a series of well-resourced annual marketing campaigns helping to keep homeworkers in regular contact with customers, as well as having impressive email software that allows for personalised marketing.
The agency also receives leads from upmarket travel club Secret Escapes that are passed on to its agents, as well as running individual websites for around 40 hotels.
The strategy is paying off with sales up 15% last year and shooting up by 35% during the peak-booking month of January.
Designer also enjoys a repeat and referral rate of 80%. This is no doubt helped by an innovative rewards system through cashback firm Quidco for customers who recommend Designer to their friends.