In this blog, Director, Arron Mitchell, explains the changes the business has undergone over the last 6 months.
"After some 18 years in travel, it had long been a dream of mine to have my own travel business. In January 2017, I formed Platinum World Travel Ltd. I started the business in my spare bedroom and began building my client database. By April 2019 I had grown to such levels I needed to recruit a member of the team and was presented with an option to take on a store in Coleford, Gloucestershire. Things were looking great!
In September 2019 we saw the collapse of the travel giant, Thomas Cook. Whilst we didn't do a huge amount of business with Thomas Cook, we did with Freedom Travel, a subsidiary of Thomas Cook, who subsequently, went into administration shortly afterwards. The next two weeks were spent working from 6am - 11pm helping some 300 independent businesses impacted by the Freedom collapse and untangling the financial mess Thomas Cook had left behind.
It is suffice to say I learnt a huge amount about Financial Protection within the Travel Industry and one of the key things I have been fighting for is better financial protection, not only for our customers, but for our suppliers and ourselves.
Towards the end of 2019 the rumblings of COVID-19 began and I didn't pay too much attention to it. However, in February 2020 it became clear COVID-19 was going to pose a problem and bookings began to drop off. At the end of March 2020 the UK Government asked us to close. We remained closed until July 2020.
We re-opened and things started to look a bit more positive. Our clients were desperate to get away after being locked up for 9 weeks. By November we were shut again as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold again. I never reopened Coleford again.
During the first lockdown, I battled tirelessly from my kitchen table to process refunds for my clients. A large issue was the airlines were refusing to refund, the operators didn't have the money to fund such a large number of cancellations. Whilst I was sympathetic to the operators, my job was to obtain refunds for our clients as was their legal right. This presented me with an opportunity to look at starting my own tour operator. In August 2020, STA Travel collapsed leaving a gap in the market for the student/youth market. Myself & Matthew Chamberlain create syte (start your travel escape) and in February 2021 we were granted our ATOL license. This has allowed us not only to fill in the gap left behind by STA Travel but also to fulfil the tailor made market for Platinum World Travel and give us far greater control of the booking process.
In January 2021 we were notified by Lux Life Magazine that we were the recipient of this years Tailor Made Agency for the South West, and I was bursting with pride!
Now as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, Matt and I opened RESFEBER as a joint venture between Platinum World Travel and syte (start your travel escape) in August 2021. We are both loving being back in a retail environment and speaking to customers face to face again!
So why the name RESFEBER? Well resfeber is actually a Swedish word, meaning the restless heart of a traveller before they embark on a journey, where anticipation and anxiety are tangled together. That is the feeling I get every single time I go travelling. The excitement and anticipation or experiencing a new destination and culture tangled with anxiety, it's the best feeling and one I have missed sorely over the last 18 months. It's a word that resonates deep within me, it's the feeling I aspire to bring to every customer who enquires and books with us.
It also gave us a good brand to appeal to both the syte (start your travel escape) & Platinum World Travel demographic.
So what does make us different? Well we have the same high exceptional service, out of hours, a wider range of products and more control over who and what we sell to our customers to ensure they are only receiving the very best for their escapes. Our amazing new look store, I am so incredibly proud of, it was long days and late nights to get the store done how we wanted it to look. It's a fun, informal and relaxed way to book a holiday. We don't stock brochures on our walls, we have interactive tv's to showcase holidays, a bar for mocktails or a cuppa, airline seats to sit and chat about holidays and even a beach! Yes you heard that right, a beach in our window.
So come along have a look at your new independent travel agents in Gloucester and see what makes us so different from the competition.