Opinion: The only limits are those you set yourself

Opinion: The only limits are those you set yourself

Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and make changes, says Sharon Fleming, director of Thompson Travel International

There are no limits – the only limits are those you set yourself. Pushing 
the boundaries of your agency is 
so important to make sure it evolves and grows.

In 2017, our agency will mark 25 years in the business. It sits in the heart of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in what we call ‘the hub of the North’ – Portadown, about 24 miles from Belfast.

In reality, with a population of 30,000 and competition from eight other travel agencies in very close proximity, there wasn’t a lot to write home about when it first opened its doors.

That said, for the first years of our agency life, we thanked our local residents for their business, grew their loyalty and proved our status within the town. Word of mouth gave us our income and that’s never to be knocked.

Back then, we confined ourselves to our regulars, our geographical boundaries and local forms of marketing. And yet, travel is worldwide, it’s not restrictive in any way.

Expand your boundaries

As the millennium turned, the internet catapulted us into a whole new world. The threat of travel agencies closing down was engraved in our minds on a daily basis.

Every time a disaster occurred, whether natural or otherwise, our future was called into question; some agents had already given up.

By changing nothing, nothing changes. And that’s something that really resonates with me.

Why are we at Thompson Travel International still here, growing year on year? Because those boundaries had 
to be pushed.

Focusing on what you do well is a start; taking it to a brand new audience is next. Expanding our geographical boundaries was a brilliant decision and, by using the right marketing tools, we achieved it. We did so by involving staff with excellent product knowledge, setting budgets and timescales for delivery, and having the product to match.

Grow your business

As we approach our milestone birthday, we now have multiple strings to our bow. We have our retail shop, two new arms of our agency – Faith & Culture Tours and Travelling Alone Together – plus, this year we have just opened our foreign exchange bureau.

Travelling Alone Together came about through personal experience. The sadness of losing my dad at 59 ultimately gave me the idea to put together trips for people on their own. Through difficulty lay opportunity. 
Just take something that worked for you and make it grow.

We’re a one-stop shop for all our customers’ needs, whether they live local to our shops or just use the airports, we can book to get them there – there is no limit.

Make your agency work for you, because a year from now, you will wish you started that journey today.

It’s a case of pushing boundaries but not accepting them. If you can’t beat the internet, embrace it. If your competitors have already got a destination covered, take on a new one. Plan it, promote it and push it.

Become a leader, not a follower.


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