Comment: There's room on the high street for the 'wow' factor

Comment: There's room on the high street for the 'wow' factor

On a visit to Kuoni’s offices in Dorking last week, I was fascinated to hear about the “wow budgets” the operator has introduced recently for retail staff.

In a nutshell, staff are free to spend these monthly budgets in the best way they see fit to clinch a sale or raise excitement of the product they are selling.

An example given was of a couple from Leeds who were weighing up whether to book a trip to Italy and decided to discuss it over lunch at Harvey Nichols. On arrival they received a bottle of Italian wine courtesy of the Kuoni staff they had just left who phoned ahead to ensure they had a taste of what was on offer if they booked.

What struck me was not just the novelty of the idea – and the free rein given to staff to spend the money as they thought best for their branches – but also the fact that the concept was dependent on enhancing personal relationships sparked from face-to-face contact.

This week we reported how a number of shops forced to close by the collapses of Bowen Travel Group and Ambassador Travel are reopening under new guises and with investment from staff and customers alike.

There is no doubt that the future of retailing is multi-channel, and we are likely to see fewer high street travel agencies in the future as a result.

But the rise of both these “phoenixes from the ashes” and retail stores from operators such as Kuoni, Virgin Holidays and Abercrombie & Kent suggest there is still room for those who really can deliver the wow factor.


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