Peaks may no longer be what they were, but now is the time to clear those niggling jobs before the turn-of-year rush, says Mark Swords, co-director of Swords Travel in Wimbledon

I always find this time of the year is the perfect point to get your house in order. It’s something an old manager of mine used to say when I worked at Thomas Cook. Now is the time of year when you can clear out the office and do all those niggling jobs that you need to get done prior to the turn-of-year rush.

Having said that, I feel booking trends have changed significantly compared with 15 years ago. This November has been our most successful month of the year, with record sales since we started trading.

This begs the question: do the peaks still exist? I think January and February will always be a key time for sales given the post-Christmas blues that make people want to book holidays. But overall, we have certainly seen a spread of business throughout the year, particularly in the luxury sector.

A time to reflect

Regardless of when busy trading periods fall, one of my fundamentals as a business is that we take time out to reflect. How have we done as a business? Do we have any weak spots on knowledge? And are there any commercial opportunities we could be looking at?

Last week, Stuart and I attended a senior management training course at The Travel Network Group’s head office. It was about exactly that: training business owners to become more effective leaders. We ran through financials, HR, PR and recruitment, but most importantly, vision and values. I came away thinking of so many new ideas and areas that we’re not quite as hot on as we should be.

Regardless of when busy trading periods fall, one of my fundamentals as a business is that we take time out to reflect.

We realised that, yes, we have company values, but we came away wondering what our long-term vision is. It’s something we’re working on but also something that changes. I’m a huge believer that our team should train, learn and experience everything we offer. This year the five of us have been lucky enough to experience 19 fam trips, which has drastically improved all of our knowledge. Spending time out is sometimes to the short-term detriment of the business; however, we know we are priming our team to be better in the long term.

A time to network

In December, we’re closing the office for a full day to attend The Travel Network Group’s supplier forum in London. The whole team will attend and we have handpicked the suppliers we feel we need to work better with or improve our knowledge about.

During the day, we’ll be meeting with more than 30 suppliers. It’s a great way to get everyone in one place and to get our undivided attention and spend quality time with our partners, listening to their key messages for peaks.

We’ll be heading out for drinks somewhere fancy and then a nice meal to thank all the team for their hard work in 2019.

As important as all of this is, I think it’s also important to reward our team and ensure we show them they are appreciated. After supplier meetings, we’ll be heading out for drinks somewhere fancy and then a nice meal to thank all the team for their hard work in 2019.

So, as we approach December, maybe it’s the perfect time of year to get your house in order. I wish you all a fantastic Christmas and a successful and happy 2020.


Val-d'Isere

We’re on a ski high

This month, we secured our largest-ever booking since launching our business three-and-a-half years ago. It’s really bizarre, as in my mind I always expect our huge bookings to come from the long-haul beach sector, yet this booking was for a corporate ski group of 21 people to Val d’Isere.

The main reason we secured it was because of our service, flexibility and determination. to get the right thing for the client. And I have to say a huge thank you to Rebecca at Carrier, who pulled it out of the bag with her top-notch service and all the right contacts in Val d’Isere.