Managing director of Travelsphere and Just You Alastair Campbell speaks to GLT’s Keeley Rodgers about travel, opportunities and the exciting future for the tour operators.
Q. Travelsphere, which has organised escorted holidays for more than 50 years, was acquired by G Adventures in January, tell us about your time at the helm so far.
A. Having started in the role properly at the end of the April, a lot of the effort over the past few months has been looking at the business and about how to make Travelsphere great again. We have been focussing on what both Travelsphere and Just You stand for and identifying their clear place in the market.
Q. And what does Travelsphere stand for?
A. It’s interesting; at the same time as the relaunch, we held workshops with many of our staff and tour managers. We asked a really simply question – what kind of business they wanted to work for in the future. The message that came out was that we want to provide a ‘holiday of a lifetime every time’. That’s our customer vision but what also came out of it was about why people want to be involved in the business. What came out very strong was exactly the same thing that came out of G Adventures – a change for good in the world. It reinforced the experience, commitment and passion from the people in the business and we’ve been trying to capture that.
Q. How important is it to harness the passion of your staff?
A. To me it’s everything because that’s all I’ve ever known. Focussed and happy staff will genuinely focus on delivering amazing experiences to our customers. It sounds so simple but our ultimate goal is to deliver the holiday of a lifetime. You’ve got to deliver on your message and keep exceeding expectations.
Q. You’ve been in the travel industry for years, what have been some of the biggest changes in your career?
A. One of the greatest changes in my time is the internet. I have spoken about social media before to student groups – a lot of people are frightened about it but it’s like getting feedback on steroids. About 15-20 years ago we used to scrabble about to get customers’ handwritten feedback but now it’s instantaneous. You have a greater opportunity to always deliver the trip the customer is expecting.
Alastair at the recent Group Leisure & Travel Awards ceremony, at which Travelsphere won Best Group Tour Operator - Long Haul.
Q. Travelsphere has recently unveiled its new brand identity, with a new brochure and website including holidays to over 60 destinations, tell us about plans for the future?
A. I can’t say too much but there are some very exciting developments coming up. It’s about re-energising the company and maximising its opportunity. We’re also focussing on sustainability; it’s an area which Travelsphere and Just You have done some great work on in the past but it’s a great opportunity, particularly with the link to G Adventures and the Planeterra Foundation. What that does is make the ultimate customer experience even richer than it is at the moment. It reinforces the whole idea of why we’re in travel.
We’re also looking at new destinations such as the Galapagos Islands trip. There are all sorts of amazing trips coming through.
Q. And what about the message to group travel organisers?
A. We’re looking at even more growth and Glen Thomas, who is heading up the sales force for Travelsphere, Just You and G Adventures is now even more ideally placed to offer the perfect holiday.
Another area that has been fabulous is the incredibly loyalty that both the business and Glen and his team have built up. We don’t take that for granted; complacency has no part in our agenda and we continue to repay that loyalty. Groups now have literally hundreds of options and types of trips to choose from.
Q. You have travelled extensively over the years, where’s your favourite destination?
A. That’s very difficult – I’ve not been anywhere that I wouldn’t go back to, there’s a long list and I’ve been very lucky! I’d probably say Latin America; I’d go back to in a heartbeat. I thought India was fantastic, the diversity was fascinating. Costa Rica too – it’s incredibly small but naturally so diverse. I’ve been quite lucky. I also don’t have a problem holidaying at home in Scotland; I spent years on the west coast.
Q. Finally, you’re a very busy man, how do you ever relax?
A. Sport. I take part in triathlons and I love it. I see the sport as the same as travel – it’s about shared experiences which is exactly what travel is about. You sit down over a meal at night, after an event, and share your views about it. It’s that shared bond that’s very special.
Pictured: Lyndsey Crump from Lime Groups (left) presents the award for Best Group Tour Operator - Long Haul to Darren Iliffe, Glen Thomas, Georgia Lewis and Rebecca Rowland from Travelsphere.
Travelsphere, which won Best Group Tour Operator – Long Haul in the recent Group Leisure & Travel Awards – and Just You continue to sell their award-winning holidays from their headquarters in Market Harborough and operate as part of G Touring Limited. In January, tour brand Travelsphere and Just You were bought by G Adventures.
Earlier this month Travelsphere unveiled its new branding and brochure – customers now have 115 unique tours to choose from. It has also introduced a Price Match Guarantee; if a customer finds the identical tour with a different operator at a lower price, Travelsphere will refund the difference and give the customer a £100 credit towards their next booking.
For group booking enquiries, Glen Thomas, who recently won The Excellence Award 2017 at the Group Leisure & Travel Awards, will be happy to help:
Phone: 01858 588 300
For more information visit www.travelsphere.co.uk
Lead image: Travelsphere has recently added a trip to the Galapagos Islands to its list of destinations.