Hays Travel has marked a decade since the takeover of Bath Travel in what was one of the sector’s most significant buyouts.
The deal in October 2013 contributed to Hays Travel becoming the UK’s largest independent travel agency group.
Bath Travel was southern England’s largest independent agency chain and Hays Travel took on 60 branches and 330 staff in Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Sussex.
Hays Travel had previously expanded steadily across its home patch in the northeast, but the acquisition led to a significant expansion in its coverage prior to acquiring the former Thomas Cook retail network.
Learning and development coach Margaret Charles recalled: “I started in travel in 1979 and had worked for Bath Travel for many years.
“I remember that all the branches closed for an hour when the Bath Family advised us via conference call that the company had been acquired by Hays Travel; John [Hays] then came on the call and welcomed us to the Hays Travel family.
“After the acquisition it was suggested that I should work with the apprentices. I undertook training and completed my assessors and IQA awards.
“I have been working in the learning and development team with the apprentices since; I love watching them develop into qualified travel consultants.
“The travel industry is amazing to work in – I always said I would leave when I stopped enjoying it and I am still here. Working for a family firm means that you know who you work for, and there is a great support network, so there is always someone you can laugh with, talk with or even cry with.”
Jeanette White, manager of Hays Travel Titchfield said: “Hays Travel Titchfield used to be a Bath Travel branch, I’ve been here for 25 years and started my career in travel at 16.
“When I heard the announcement, I remember asking ‘who is Hays Travel?’ as we had never heard of them in the south.
“We were worried about jobs and were sad to see the end of Bath Travel, but everything is completely different now. Hays Travel’s investment, particularly in IT, has been great.
“I recall attending my first ever conference after joining Hays – I couldn’t believe how many people were there to get to know. I’ve seen some massive changes over the last decade many for the better, such as the internet and instant communication, there’s still a place for face-to-face though.
“I really enjoy travel and I love suggesting trips for customers that would suit them – when a client comes back from their holiday with a big smile having had a lovely time, that’s the best feeling.”
Head of retail Paula Barrett added: “As anyone in travel will tell you, this is an exciting and rewarding sector to work in; we welcome people from all walks of life to join us whether through recruitment or acquisition and we are committed to learning and development throughout our organisation.
“Every colleague who joins us, including those new to travel, brings new skills and expertise so we can all learn from one another.”
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