Running SN Travel is much more than just a job for managing director Sandra Dyer. It’s about fufilling her late father’s aspirations for the business he set up in 1968 to meet demand from the community for flights to see family and friends in the Caribbean.
“My sister Donna and I run it and we look at it now as our father’s gift to us. We have to fufil his dream for the business,” says Sandra, who has worked at the north-east London agency for more than 30 years.
“When I started at 17, I can remember handwriting all the flight tickets. My dad taught me how the business ran and all about travel.”
The company is about to mark its 40th anniversary with a special dinner and dance, at which Sandra’s father Leslie Joseph will be remembered for his work, passion and vision. Leslie passed away in 2005 but Sandra’s mum Audrey remains secretary of the business.
“My dad was a mechanic by trade and started the business from the basement of our home because he wanted to find a solution for people wanting to go back to visit family in the Caribbean,” Sandra recalls.
The business began life as a Caribbean flight-only specialist. The Caribbean still makes up 60% of sales, but the agency now provides a broad range of holidays and runs its own tour operation. In 2006, the business was rebranded from Stoke Newington Travel to SN Travel.
Sandra says: “My dad could see the change in the clientele. He said we needed to get an Atol and cater for that demand [for dynamic packaging]. Instrumentally, he gave us the tools to do it. This is why it’s important to mark 40 years in honour of him.”
Four decades on, business continues to thrive. Many of the agency’s clients are the second and third generation of Leslie’s original customers and now, instead of wanting flight-only, they want flights and hotels when visiting relatives.
Sandra is even considering whether to open the shop on Sundays. “On a Sunday you would think it was Saturday in this area,” she adds, “and as a business you cannot sit still.”
In the meantime, the business has revamped its website to make it bookable. “We’ll see how that goes first,” she says.
SN Travel is holding its dinner and dance this Saturday (November 9) at the Hotel Novotel, Hammersmith, with suppliers and former members of the business. Tickets are available on its website at sntravel.co.uk
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