Tuesday, June 25, 2024

City travel agents reveal top trends of 2024 amid award celebrations

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Sophie Baker started Oyster Travel in Old Catton as a 27-year-old in 2009, having just been made redundant as manager of the Holt branch of Harvey World Travel.

Now, 15 years later, she is managing director of the best travel agency in the east of England and one of the top 50 in the country, according to industry media outlet TTG.

“It was really exciting to win,” said Sophie.

Norwich Evening News: Vicky Samwell-Buckenham (left) and Sophie Baker (right)Vicky Samwell-Buckenham (left) and Sophie Baker (right) (Image: Denise Bradley)

“We have been runners-up three times and, having had such a good year and worked so hard, it felt like a good time for us to win.”

Fellow managing director, Vicky Samwell-Buckenham, added: “It’s lovely that everyone’s hard work has been acknowledged.”

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Between November 2022 and October 2023, the team at Oyster World sent 3,565 customers on holiday – a number that continues to increase yearly.

“I think that one of the main reasons we continue to grow is because we have the flexibility to fully tailor-make someone’s holiday, which not many agencies can do,” explained Vicky.

“We aren’t restricted and can put the customer at the heart of everything we do.” 

Sophie even had to put her Christmas Day on hold when a cancelled flight left a customer stranded in Vietnam, and she stepped in to sort the issue.

Norwich Evening News: Oyster Travel in CattonOyster Travel in Catton (Image: Denise Bradley)

The team has also made the most of the newest Ryanair flights from Norwich Airport, with many customers now choosing to holiday in Malta.

“The Ryanair flights have been really good for us,” said Sophie. 

“The twice-weekly flights and great flight times enable people to easily head on a weekend break.”

Oyster Travel has also seen a rise in people heading on ‘bucket-list’ location trips, with one customer recently booking a holiday in Antarctica.

Norwich Evening News: Oyster Travel has been named the best travel agency in the east of EnglandOyster Travel has been named the best travel agency in the east of England (Image: Denise Bradley)

“The pandemic changed people’s mindsets around travel,” said Sophie.

“Generally holiday prices have increased due to the cost-of-living crisis but, as a general rule, people are now spending more on bigger holidays.”

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And, with the company’s continued success, it might not be long before they look to expand into other sites.

“Maybe in the not-so-distant future, another branch is something we would look into,” said Sophie.

“We would definitely like to expand and are exploring the options.”

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