Travelbag appoints new MD and eyes further growth

Lesley Rollo, dnata Travel Group’s UK chief executive, has announced Andy Furlong – Mark Warner marketing director – will become her successor at Travelbag.

Rollo took on the CEO role in February, having served almost five years as Travelbag managing director.

In her new role, she oversees the group’s UK-based brands – B2B operators Gold Medal, Pure Luxury, Cruise Plus and Incredible Journeys, as well as B2C brands Travelbag, Travel Republic and Netflights.

More: Travelbag opens seventh store in Cobham

Travelbag expands high street presence with new shop opening

She told a Travel Weekly webcast that appointing her successor at Travelbag had been one of her priorities as she has been juggling both roles.

“It is quite a lengthy process, trying to find the right candidate,” she said.

“I am really excited to get him on board, so I can fully step into the CEO role.”

On Tuesday (July 2), the long-haul specialist agency chain opened its seventh store in Cobham, Surrey, following the opening of its Marlow branch in January. A lease has been signed for an eighth store, but she did not reveal its location.

“We had ups and downs in terms of the size of the estate and closed a few shops during the pandemic,” she said.

“It was a good opportunity for us to reset and relook at our retail strategy.

“We’ve really nailed that target demographic [and] location.

“We tend to gravitate more towards market towns rather than big city locations, where the affluence is quite high.

“Marlow opened in January, and it is doing really well.

“Now we’re looking to expand further. Definitely still growing.”

She said Furlong’s ecommerce and marketing expertise is hugely important despite the fact Travelbag is a high street chain.

“[He is] very digital and web savvy. A lot of people might think Travelbag is an offline business with stores, phone, homeworkers…but the website is hugely important.

“[People] engage with the site for the content and then they might either pick up the phone, use a store finder or submit an online web quote.

“Most of the Travelbag bookings are multicentre trips. Growth in that has been quite phenomenal over the last five years.

“It was one of the main objectives I had when I joined Travelbag, to try and elevate it into more of a multicentre brand, so [it is] more difficult to book online [and] you need the expertise of the agent.”

She also noted how the chain operates a hybrid model, enabling staff to work at home and in the branch to help recruit the right agents.

“We had to be quite innovative. It’s quite well documented at the moment, the challenges that people have in recruiting into travel,” she told the webcast.

“It is proving more and more difficult to hire people who’ve even travelled.

“Post-pandemic, we seem to have lost out on those few years that people were doing gap year travels; but we are starting to see that come through again.”

Go to Source...