Home Business and economy Experience pays as Team Kirkby scoop top prize at Hays Travel awards night

Experience pays as Team Kirkby scoop top prize at Hays Travel awards night

by Jonathan Kearney

The seven staff from Hays Travel North West’s Kirkby store won the Merseyside and North Wales Travel Shop of the Year title at the company’s glittering awards evening at Chester Racecourse.

Shop manager Natalie Mackay said it was a great reward for all the hard work they put in and testimony to her team’s breadth of knowledge and experience in the industry.

She said: “Collectively we must have a total of more than 100 years of experience in the travel sector.

“We all absolutely love our jobs and we live and breathe travel. I think that’s why we have so many repeat customers.

“People come back to us time and again because they know we can find them the holiday they want at any time in their lives.”

The seven staff members also all hail from Kirkby.

Natalie said: “It wasn’t planned that way, it’s just coincidence that we were all born and brought up locally but it’s a great advantage us knowing the area so well and being a part of the Kirkby community.

“Our faces are familiar in the area, which also helps when people are looking for an agency they can trust to advise them on their dream holidays.

“We now know many of our customers by their first names and have built up a lovely rapport with them.”

Natalie and her assistant manager Francine Finnin are hugely proud to have sent over 4,000 people on holiday during the year.

Also in the team are Samantha Smith, Paula Cameron, Megan Shelly, Georgia Wallace and Lucy Marrs and their reward is a three-day stay in a luxury hotel in Turkey for a Hays Travel Conference.

Natalie said they were all over the moon to have hit such a sales milestone.

She said: “It is a real achievement in itself but to win Travel Shop of the Year is the icing on the cake. We knew we had done well this year but we were all still massively surprised when we heard we’d won the big one.

“The girls have been brilliant. We all get on well and pull together to make sure we reach our targets. It’s also great to think that we have helped so many people take off on fantastic holidays which they will remember for years to come.

“We’ve dealt with thousands of passengers – more than four thousand a year I’d say – and we have all travelled extensively ourselves so we can talk to them from personal experience.

“If they ask us what a place is like then one of us has usually been there either on a personal holiday or on an industry-related educational trip so we can tell them first hand.”

Natalie said demand for getaways varies broadly from domestic breaks in the UK to Caribbean cruises.

She said: “There is no one type of vacation which dominates the rest. We cover a wide range of destinations and styles of holiday, though it would be true to say we have noticed an increased demand for cruise holidays over recent years.

“I think one reason is that people can book them a few years in advance now. We’re already taking bookings for 2025 and people can spread the cost over a longer period, paying in instalments by direct debit.

“It’s really opened up that market to those who perhaps couldn’t afford to pay all in one go before.

“Cruise holidays used to be very much a once in a lifetime dream for many but now they are a lot more affordable and accessible and I’m looking forward to a cruise to the Caribbean later this year.”

The awards are organised annually by Hays Travel North West managing director Don Bircham to celebrate the achievements of the more than 200-strong Hays Travel team across the entire region.