The Holy Grail for travel agencies that operate high street stores is to make them work in perfect harmony with their websites, according to youth travel brand STA Travel.
“Given the nature of what we do, our customers do a huge amount of research online and where we want to get to is a place where they can come in the store and complete that [booking].
“When they come into store, can we help transfer what they have done online into our point of sale so it’s already prepared and we have done some additional research for them?
“All offline players are going to have to make sure they have a blend of facilities and services because the consumer wants to book where the consumer wants to book.”
Jenkins said STA’s 50 stores in the UK are in prime locations, but are not all necessarily in “destination high streets” and therefore are not reliant on footfall.
But he said STA clients were prepared to travel to stores and that the firm’s website helps generate pre-arranged in-store visits.
Jenkins said data on each store determines its viability and this was why it closed its High Street Kensington branch, where many rivals operate flagship stores.
He said: “We looked at where the customer was coming from and it was not the High Street Ken area.”
Travellers keen to bag £49 return flights to Bangkok camped outside STA Travel branches in London Victoria and Birmingham Corporation Street through thunderstorms and snow for up to two nights.
There were only 49 of the return Qatar Airways fares available at the branches and both STA staff and the bargain-hunters kept a note of when each person had arrived to ensure they kept their place.
STA staff gave out hot chocolate, Red Bull and hand-warmers and when the doors opened at 9am on Thursday morning Thai dancers and masseurs were on-hand to entertain the excited travellers.
The campers got a few funny looks from passers-by but said the atmosphere had been jovial and the council had permitted them to keep their tents up overnight.
Once the first 49 flights had been snapped up on the day, one further ticket was released in each location, taking the total to 100. While the outbound flights have to be taken by June 30, the return can be up to six months later.
STA Travel’s UK country manager Tim Fryer said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response. “We’re delighted to have been able to give 100 people this opportunity to explore Thailand.”
A further 49 return tickets to Bangkok were available at each location for £299.