Travel agency Ultimate Destinations in Chorleywood, Herfordshire is living proof that image counts.
The store has seen a 97% year-on-year increase in sales in the first two months of 2009 thanks to a full makeover of the shop and its staff.
The shop has been refitted over the last two years to reflect a focus on the higher end of the market and to complement the other quality specialist shops in the local area.
Rather than selling holidays of all kinds, the agency now concentrates on four and five star holidays, long haul and luxury cruises.
To help promote a luxury image, the shop has introduced a new colour scheme, lighting, air conditioning and desks at a cost of £10,000. The staff have been given a uniform to help create a professional look.
Director Alan Haynes. who bought the company four years ago, has also grown the business by becoming a member of the first Travel Weekly Cruise Club in 2007 and by recruiting two cruise specialist homeworkers.
He said: "The shop is much brighter and more inviting now. We have changed the way we present ourselves and customers now see us as somewhere they can get advice and book with security.
"The lower end of the market has gone to the internet so we focus on finding the best deals for customers who are spending a lot of money on a luxury product."
Key to success during the recession is looking on the positive side, says Haynes. "Those that have jobs and mortgages have more cash as mortgages rates are at their lowest in history, but instead of moving house or investing at low interest people could be spending on holidays."
Alan Haynes' top tips
- Choose your business partners carefully - not ones with overseas call centres or operators that penalise you with premium telephone numbers
- I joined Business Network International just over two years ago which has produced extra sales and given me a very professional support network
- Be positive: do not look at the unemployment figures, look at the fact that there are more people in employment than ever before
- There is a well known saying "turnover is vanity but profit is sanity" so watch overheads and margins.
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