Peakes Travel Elite opens luxury lounge for clients

Shrewsbury agency Peakes Travel Elite has opened a luxury lounge at its high street premises to hold VIP consultations with clients and events with tour operators.

Managing director Claire Moore said the upstairs space had housed the agency’s long-haul department before the pandemic.

Post-Covid, a new structure and an appointment-only focus have seen her staff numbers drop from 15 to six, meaning the first floor could be repurposed.

The lounge now enables clients to have VIP treatment while they talk about their holiday options over a glass of fizz or a cup of coffee.

“We want to promote our point of difference with our appointment-only system,” said Moore.

“We have opportunities with some specialist tour operators, especially Aito members, to collaborate via a big TV screen on Zoom or Teams with the client in the lounge.

“It means we’re away from the main shop floor, which is very busy at the moment.

“This collaborative approach helps us to stand out.”

The lounge has also meant the agency can resume monthly ‘meet the expert’ events with tour operator partners.

The first one will be on February 17 with Holly Brown, business development manager at Inside Travel Group, talking about Japan.

The event was planned after Moore visited Japan in November 2023 with the Aspire Travel Club annual VIP retreat, as Inside Travel Group brand InsideJapan was one of the partners for the trip.

She highlighted how the lounge will enable staff to better showcase their expertise, which is boosted by trade training and fam trips.

Colleague Kate Goodrich, luxury and long-haul senior travel specialist visited Antarctica in November with Polar Latitudes, and Sue Kinton, long-haul and cruise department team leader will go to Canada in March with Prestige Travel. The agency has also signed up to attend the Clia RiverView Conference 2024 in Amsterdam (March 11-13).

Moore said sales have been strong for the turn-of-year peak selling period – despite having to shut temporarily earlier this month because of flooding caused by Storm Henk.

The agency had reopened after New Year on January 2 but then had to close for four days as the town centre was cut off by the flooding of the river Severn.

Moore said the agency is busy selling a wide range of short-haul and long-haul holidays – and this is the first year without having to deal with rearranged bookings that had been cancelled due to Covid.

“It is all fresh business,” she added.

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