Baldwins Travel sets up The Travel Specialist franchise

Baldwins Travel has created its own franchise business, aimed at entrants to the travel industry and experienced agents.

Nick Marks, managing director of Baldwins, told a Travel Weekly webcast: “It is the right time to get into that marketplace and we feel we have got something great to offer.”

A member of the Advantage Travel Partnership, the miniple has 11 branches across Kent, Sussex and Lincolnshire.

It acquired Westerham Travel in Kent last month and its 10th shop recently opened in Grantham, Lincolnshire – the first store outside the southeast region in Baldwins’ 129-year history.

Marks said: “Baldwins has been going since 1895. We’ve got great relationships with our tour operators [and] partners, not only on retail but on business travel – and our membership of Advantage.

“We want to get people earning what they think they should be earning as a franchisee.”

Sally Ward, senior retail manager at Baldwins Travel, has been appointed as business development manager for The Travel Specialist.

“I will be looking after anyone who comes on board…nurturing, providing training resources, and helping with the day-to-day aspects of owning your own travel company and being able to do the best you possibly can – and make the most money,” she added.

“We have put a lot of research into this; we do have plans for expansion and getting as many on board as possible to work under our umbrella.”

She said highlighted the passion and experience of the Baldwins team, adding: “We have huge staff retention; people stay with us for years and years and years, which is a really positive sign that we are doing something right.

“We want to take that to other travel specialists who may not be able to work in a retail environment because of their preferences or their set-ups.”

Marks said the franchise aims to support homeworking agents, who may also be able to help answer calls to Baldwins outside of normal office hours.

However, he already has two potential franchisees who are interested in establishing bricks-and-mortar premises, located away from other Baldwins branches.

“It is yet to be decided whether they’ll be called Baldwins or under their own name – they’ll certainly be owned by different people from Baldwins but they’ll be under the Baldwins franchise,” he said.

“There are a lot of people out there doing [franchises]. I just think that we can add something a little bit more fun, a bit more different.

“All my team have a lot of fun in the office, as well as selling holidays.

“It is so important to get the team together and we just want to make it more fun.”

A website is live at thetravelspecialist.co.uk and will be promoted on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Furthermore, a bookable website for Baldwins Travel is being developed, enabling customers to book outside normal shop opening hours – and to attract clients from beyond the agency’s heartlands.

Marks said the website is not aimed at taking away business from bricks-and-mortar branches, adding: “This is just an added service.”

Ward commented: “Even if [clients] do book online, they’ll still have that Baldwins touch…and that contact by our retail team.

“It doesn’t matter what method someone books, they will always get that Baldwins touch and that extra service that we always give our clients to keep them coming back.”

Marks said Baldwins is continuing to eye growth with its own retail network, most likely by taking over shops from owners who are retiring.

“Opening a new store is a very different concept to taking on something that’s already happening,” he said.

“We can build on the legacy of these guys. That’s really important. I love the word legacy.”

He said the Westerham premises are being modernised and should be open in the next four weeks or so.

“We wanted to keep that business going. We didn’t want it to fade,” said Marks.

“We want to make sure his customers were taken care of. That is the way to go forward. That’s my ethos.”

 


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