Award-winning agency Travel Options 4U has come a long way from its humble beginnings as ‘The Travel Shed’. Juliet Dennis talks to owner Jenette Spirovski.
Q. How did you get into travel?
A. I did a Btec course in travel and tourism at college and had an administration job lined up in Portugal. At the end of the course my lecturer rang me. I thought he was going to say I had failed my course, but he was setting up his own agency in Bournemouth and asked if I wanted a job. It wasn’t my plan – I wanted to go overseas – but I ended up starting work for my lecturer in 1989 at the age of 18. I’ve worked in travel ever since.
Q. Why did you set up on your own?
A. It was after a customer said to me “don’t you miss travel?” It was in 2006 and I was working part-time at Howard Travel in Trowbridge and teaching travel and tourism at Wiltshire College. I did miss working in travel full-time but I was pregnant with my second son so I wanted something flexible. I approached Global Travel Group and set up Travel Options 4U.
Q. How did the business start?
A. I worked from home, from a desk in my hallway, to start with. I used to go out to visit clients. We moved house in 2008 and I tried working from every room before we bought a shed in 2012, then moved into the garden. I used to call it The Travel Shed and even had a logo made. In 2014, a customer asked if I’d like to share business premises with her in Bradford on Avon, so I did. She moved out at the end of last year and we took the whole premises on, but when my lease came to an end this year, I looked for somewhere new. We ended up moving into a shop in an old listed building in the town centre this June.
Q. What has been the most challenging time and what achievements are you most proud of?
A. In 2008 my youngest son was diagnosed with a heart problem as a result of a virus. We didn’t know what would happen, even if he would make primary school, and it was a very hard time. I had to put my head down and keep the business afloat. I had been pregnant with him when I set up the business so I think that gave me more momentum. Fortunately he’s doing really well now; he’s 11 and very determined. I am proud of the business, although I tend to look forward at what I can do better. We have won a few awards, like Global Travel Group’s agency with the best turnover in 2016, and its special recognition award this year, as well as a local award for best travel agency in Bradford on Avon.
Q. What’s business been like since you moved into your first proper high street shop?
A. It’s busier but it’s exciting. Lots of customers knew about us, mainly through word of mouth. We get lots of different clients and we sell everything; it’s all about the customer. I am the only full-time member of staff but I have four part-time staff, so it’s a team effort. We have three rooms and a courtyard – the building has a lovely feel with an open fireplace and wood burner. We’ve already worked with a supplier to hold a client event here. It is hard running a business – you never know what you’ll wake up to each day – but I relish the challenge.
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