Haslemere Travel owner Gemma Antrobus plans to overhaul the high-street agency’s technology in a bid to make the business work more efficiently following its management buyout.
Antrobus, who has been managing director since 2008, bought the Surrey 27-year-old agency just before Christmas following the retirement of owners Andrew and Di Brownrigg.
A new front and back-office selling and administration system will be introduced to the agency after the peak January and February peak sales months as the agency also looks to move more paperwork online and work more effectively.
“I am going to bring in a more efficient technology system; we could work smarter. We currently have a bespoke system that relies on Andrew Brownrigg’s background as an accountant.
“We need one that doesn’t need an accountant. It’s a front and back office system that other independent agencies use,” said Antrobus, also chairman of Aito Specialist Travel Agents.
A bigger review of the business is likely to be conducted mid-year, with one of the key issues likely to focus on whether the agency takes on principal responsibility.
“Do we remain as an agent or do we take on principal responsibility? It’s a big decision and I need to do more analysis. Do you end up making the same amount of money for more risk?” said Antrobus.
The agency’s brand, location and staff will remain the same, she stressed. The shop has five sales staff while there are nine homeworkers nationally.
“The reason the Brownriggs wanted me to take it on was because they knew the ethos and brand values would not change,” she said, but added: “I will ensure we work more effectively and efficiently, and make us more up-to-date.”
Already the agency, which is not a member of any consortium, uses members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators for the majority of its sales and these are all negotiated through Antrobus.
“Around 99% of our partnerships are with Aito suppliers, I have made sure of that in the last year. It’s now about working with them a bit smarter.”
The agency may recruit more homeworkers but there are no specific growth plans in place in terms of recruitment, she said.
“There are some conversations taking place,” she said. “Our homeworkers have to think the same way as our shop staff about luxury travel.”