The past two years have been transformative for this Stoke-on-Trent-based agency after it received £6.5 million in investment from a private equity firm to fast-track its growth plans.
Blue Bay Travel operates under three main brands: Caribbean Warehouse, Tropical Warehouse and Xclusivity, and sells on its website, via its call centre and through a network of home-based agents.
Since gaining the investment, the head office team has almost doubled to 100 staff, with expansion particularly in the marketing and product development teams. And the past year has seen Blue Bay work closely with deal publishers such as Travelzoo and Icelolly for the first time, and invest more in digital marketing, enjoying considerable success with pay-per-click.
The agency successfully trialled billboard advertising in 2018, initially in the Stoke area then later in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham where it knew it could find the right kind of client.
Blue Bay, which was named UK & Ireland’s Top Online Agency at TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies in 2018, contracts directly with hotels in some destinations, alongside working with tour operator partners including Sandals and Thomas Cook.
Last year, Blue Bay forged new contracts with hotels in Jamaica and Cuba to place a bigger focus on these destinations, and also branched out into the Maldives.
Despite being a very digitally focused business, Blue Bay wants its consultants to build personal relationships, and agents are able – particularly in hotels where it has direct contracts – to make special requests for clients, and even arrange surprise touches for loyal customers.
It is also an agency that takes company culture and corporate social responsibility very seriously.
Staff can take advantage of a cycle to work scheme, and training last year with mental health charity Mind led to the instalment of a “kindness wall” in head office.
Fundraising efforts for charity have been consolidated to take a more structured approach, and Blue Bay has also started working with The Travel Foundation, asking clients to make an optional donation at the time of booking to support the foundation’s work in overseas tourism destinations.
Revenue for this thriving agency climbed from £30 million in 2017 to £40 million in 2018, and it is well on track to meet an ambitious goal of doubling its 2017 revenue by 2020.