Travel agency hits £1m of revenue in first three months

A travel agency owner is encouraging others in the industry to “follow their dream” after his business hit £1m of revenue in its first three months of trading.

Josh Cotton’s store in his home village of Cottingham, East Yorkshire, has been busy since opening its doors on June 1.

The Midcounties Co-operative member, which is now recruiting its sixth agent, reached the £1m revenue figure on its 100th day of trading.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to has said, ‘It’s just incredible – how have you done it’?” said Cotton, who previously managed a store in Hull.

Cotton himself focuses on the cruise sector, which he said accounts for 45% of revenues, while his colleagues draw on more than 40 years’ collective experience to craft a range of trips, including tailor-made long-haul bookings.

The vast majority of enquiries are currently in-person or over the phone, said Cotton, with further work on the website planned for the coming months.

Yet Cotton believes sticking to “traditional” industry values lies behind the business’s success.

Under this approach, which means the agents get to know their customers personally and stick with the same clients, Cotton Travel issues paper tickets in-store or via post, handles visas and all administration, offers refreshments and gives ‘welcome home’ calls.

“We’ve had clients who were new to us in June and booked a holiday with us, before coming back and booking two or three for next year,” said Cotton.

In the first week of trading, the business achieved revenues of £103,000, said Cotton, who added that it is currently on track to more than double the figure originally projected for the end of the year.

“I’m just speechless,” he said. “We didn’t expect to take off as fast as we did.”

All but one of the agents have previous travel sector experience, said Cotton, but the new-to-industry recruit has quickly settled in.

“Steph has pleasantly shocked me, so going forward I’ll be looking to hire from all walks of life,” Cotton said.

In a message to others in the industry, he added: “If you’re tired of working hard for a multiple where you maybe just feel like a number, or slightly undervalued, and you have a dream of setting up your own agency, I would say 100% try to do it.

“If you get your team and your product and your service right, then you’re onto a winner.”

He said he would like to open a second store in the future and potentially a third.

The Cottingham store is managed by Scott Lawton, with the assistant manager role held by Dawn Iles.

Photo: Josh Cotton; agents Kamara and Steph outside the Cotton Travel store

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