Olive Lounge Travel wins Yorkshire's Top Travel Agency Award !

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CROSS HILLS independent travel agency Olive Lounge Travel has been named the best in Yorkshire.

The company was awarded the accolade as part of a power-list of the nation’s best agents by industry bible the Travel Trade Gazette.

Staff from the agency in Main Street heard the news when they attended a glittering ceremony in Birmingham following an extensive judging process.

Olive Lounge Travel is run by Gillian Polyhos and Joanne Edwards, who each had almost two decades’ experience working for well-known travel agents in Keighley, Skipton and Ilkley before going it alone.

The pair, who both live in Silsden, set up the fledgling agency in Gillian’s spare room in October 2015 and the business soon took off.

They boast that they can book “anything from a night out in Manchester to a fortnight in Mauritius”. The business now employs seven people.

In a joint statement this week the pair said they were “absolutely delighted” to receive the latest award.

They added: “To have come from starting the business in a spare room at home, to having two successful shops and winning Top Agent in Yorkshire within four years, is an immensely proud achievement for the whole team.”

More than 500 travel agencies and branches put themselves forward for consideration for TTG’s Top 50 Travel Agencies 2019 – in association with Kuoni - from which a shortlist of 100 finalists across 20 categories was devised.

An extensive judging process saw agents rated by tour operators and other suppliers, and then assessed by travel trade journalists.

Olive Lounge Travel was named Yorkshire’s Top Agency from a shortlist of five.

TTG group editor Pippa Jacks said: “Now in its fourth year, our Top 50 Travel Agencies initiative has seen us tour the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland to uncover its most dedicated and innovative travel agency businesses.

“Our winners demonstrate that travel retailing in 2019 is a vibrant and successful business sector, and that experienced travel professionals continue to add value through their expertise and by delivering extraordinary service to their customers.”

"The team at Olive Lounge Travel impressed our judges with what they’d achieved since opening just three years ago, building an impressive business with top-notch customer service and a loyal client following, and going above and beyond to give back to their local community.

“Huge congratulations to Joanne and Gillian and the team for taking home this prestigious accolade."

The shortlisting stage was undertaken by a panel of 60 travel suppliers including airlines, tour operators and car hire providers, who rated hopeful agencies according to their business performance, customer service and expertise.

To decide which shortlisted agencies made it into the Top 50 list, a TTG journalist visited or interviewed each shortlisted agency to carry out an assessment.

Travel Trade Gazette is the UK and Ireland’s leading travel industry magazine, publishing weekly since 1953.

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STAFF at an independent travel agency in Cross Hills are celebrating after it was shortlisted as one of the top 50 agencies in the country.

Leading travel industry magazine TTG has listed Olive Lounge Travel, in Main Street, as ‘Best Yorkshire Travel Agent’.

Winners will be decided by a combination of rating by suppliers and visits to stores in every region.

The accolade comes just three years after long-time travel industry workers Joanne Edwards and Gillian Polyhos set up their own agency in Gillian’s spare room.

Joanne said: “We have only been going for three-and-a-half years so it’s amazing that we have been nominated.

“We believe that it’s our personal service that sets us apart so to get this recognition is fantastic.”

Joanne and Gillian, who both live in Silsden, had each clocked up almost two decades working for well-known travel agents in Keighley, Skipton and Ilkley before going it alone as Olive Lounge.

Joanne said: “We started in October 2015 and the business soon took off. A lot of our customers followed us so we were so busy.

“We say that we can book anything from a night out in Manchester to a fortnight in Mauritius, and everything in between.”

In April 2016 the pair opened a second branch, in Barrowford near Colne. The business now employs seven people.

That year the Olive Lounge was awarded Best Newcomer at the Global Travel group awards in Dubai.

The winners of the latest awards will be revealed at a ceremony at the end of April at ‘Vox at Resorts World’ in Birmingham.

The Top 50 Travel Agencies awards which aim to recognise excellence in retailing, are run by TTG, established in 1953 as Travel Trade Gazette but now a company offering a weekly magazine, training, and news-led website, bespoke marketing campaigns and a community for luxury travel professionals.

The awards, held in association with travel company Kuoni, comprise 20 different categories, highlighting stand-out stores in 12 different regions my categories for different kinds of agency business.

Travel agency owners were able to register their stores in regional categories, then a team of suppliers rated each store on a scale of one to five.

They considered sales volume and growth, along with each agency’s customer service, expertise and innovation.

Categories also included customer service champion, community hero, and contribution to travel.