Shrewsbury – birthplace of Charles Darwin, inventor of the Shrewsbury cake, and now home to the best travel agency in the British Isles.
Frances Peake, who opened Peakes Travel Elite as a high street store in 1992, says winning this accolade at the TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies ceremony was “the best night in our 27-year-history”.
The thriving agency is housed in a Grade II-listed building in the historic centre of Shrewsbury, and with its old wooden beams, huge windows and elegant decor it is
one of the smartest and most atmospheric stores that TTG visited during Top 50 judging this year.
The agency claimed the title of UK & Ireland’s No.1 Travel Agency 2019 after being named top agency in the Central England region – and can proudly say it is the only high street store to have been named the top in its region every year since the very first TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies in 2016.
The business is now jointly owned by Frances and store manager Claire Moore, who
herself brings 24 years’ experience to the business.
She praises the work of the whole team in achieving the win. “Frances and I are very proud to front the business, but it’s definitely a group effort, and everyone works very hard to be the best we can.
“I have always joked about having the best team in Shropshire, then when we won Central England’s Top Agency three years ago I could widen that. Well, now I can say we have the best team in the whole of the UK and Ireland – incredible!”
Expertise and customer service are the drivers of this business’s success, with the close-knit team of 13 consultants claiming more than 200 years in the travel industry between them.
Peakes Travel Elite is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) and prides itself on selling high-quality and tailor-made holidays, often using specialist operators.
Dedicated concierges sit alongside the sales consultants to focus on making every single booking extraordinary – from checking in customers online and making welcome-home telephone calls to making special requests to hotels and cruise lines.
In one recent example of Peakes’ dogged determination, a consultant pursued a low-cost airline for nine months to claim a refund on a client’s behalf, and Peakes is also able to draw upon its strong relationships with tour operators to, for example, help a client jump a long waiting list to be able to confirm on an over-subscribed trip.
It can be hard for well-established agencies to grow sales significantly year-on-year, and yet this business’s innovative approach to trying new things – including a new website, taking part in events such as a local Oktoberfest, and exhibiting at Kidsfest – has helped it add new customers to its very loyal database of repeat clients in the last 12 months, generating a 25% increase in sales between 2014 and 2018.
Claire adds: “Having won the trophy for Central England three years in a row we genuinely didn’t think that we could win again, so to not only win in our region for the fourth consecutive year but also bring home the No.1 spot in the UK and Ireland has honestly taken our breath away, and the response we have had from clients and industry colleagues on social media has been astonishing.”
Excitingly, Peakes Travel Elite is so confident of the business boost that this win will bring that it now intends to recruit for additional members of staff.
“We had been cautious about expanding the team, but we now feel confident we can grow, so we’ll look to make another two additions to the Peakes Travel Elite team.”
After all, who wouldn’t want to work for the UK and Ireland’s very best agency?