Of all the places to work as a travel agent, a shipping container has to be one of the less likely locations. But convert it into a pop-up store and plonk it in a busy shopping centre in London’s trendy Shoreditch area – with a stream of young professionals eyeing up the brand every day – and you’re in business.
STA Travel assistant manager Nicila Forsyth, who has run the company’s new mini‑concept pop-up store on her own since it opened last month, has no doubts the agency is on to a winner.
“We’ve hit the jackpot; I am always busy. People who work in local offices come in and then go back and tell their colleagues to come in,” says Nicila, 27. “We are getting 25 to 35-year-olds who want to book a two-week holiday and spend £3,000-£4,000.”
The store already has plans to bring in a second member of staff next month to help Nicila, who has worked for STA Travel for almost seven years, including a 12-month stint at an STA store in New York last year.
In Shoreditch, the brightly coloured store and relaxed environment – there are iPads and TV screens for clients to browse while waiting – attracts customers keen to find out more about STA Travel, she adds.
“This is an opportunity to get our brand out to people who don’t know STA Travel, particularly young professionals,” says Nicila, who hails from Australia.
“It’s a tiny container but it’s very interactive. People want to come and take a look. It’s also informal and people who come in often make an appointment to come back and see me. We often get people coming in from Essex as we are their closest STA Travel store.”
Marketing to the local market with a variety of vouchers and discount cards is also helping to pull in new customers, while the agency is giving out Oyster card wallets branded with its Shoreditch store to increase brand awareness with commuters as soon as they come out of the train station.
Nicila says: “The discount cards are working fantastically as they are designed specifically for this store to let people know we are here and they work as a referral system by people giving them to their friends.”
For Nicila, juggling customers’ needs on her own all comes down to customer service.
“We are trying to be super-helpful; customer service is our number-one focus,” she says.
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