What’s your background?

Born in Bolton, I had what you’d describe as a typical upbringing. I stayed local throughout my school and university years, after that I made the big jump down to London where I didn’t have much of a plan, I just wanted to embark on a new adventure. After dipping my toe into numerous jobs I fell into sales with a large travel company under the notion that I could use this to see the wider world, and so the journey quite literally began.

I moved through the ranks with speed over the next 5 years by which time I was almost 28 and decided to take another step outside my comfort zone. Fuelled by the experiences over the last few years I went traveling for real which lasted for 2 incredible years. Thanks to my swift progression within the travel industry and what I labeled ‘customer experience’ from my own travels, I ended up working for a travel company in Australia where I broke their world record for the most amount of sales done in a month. I achieved this within 6 months.

Not long after turning 30 I headed back to the UK a different person. I’d experienced a lot and felt eager to write my next chapter on my homeland. Brimming with my recent successes down under I headed for London where the accolades continued for the next 7 years. I was then approached by a client who offered me an investment opportunity to start my own business, I’d just become a father around this time so naturally I was a little more cautious. However the culture within the company I worked for at this point had started to change and the stars aligned, it was time…

How was A&G started? 

I took the big step aged 39 in October 2017. In a nutshell, I created A&G using all the good I’d seen and acquired and none of the bad. Essentially we wanted to deliver cost effective stress free travel for the corporate sector but with a personal touch. Trips abroad are more than transactions, they’re memories that shape us and ultimately what we remember most, and that’s why our motto is ‘It’s personal to us’ because we know how personal it is to our customers.

Our mission from the outset was to take the industry back 10 years to a time when customer service was paramount and our ethos paid off by seeing the business quadruple in size within our first 2 years.

What makes A&G different?

We took things back to basics in the corporate travel market, placing customer service top of our priorities and combined that with technology to create something unique and it works. 96% of our customers return to A&G which is a statistic that constantly reminds us we’re doing the right thing.r.

What have been the biggest challenges so far?

I underestimated the complexities between all the moving parts within a company, especially one that grew as quickly as ours. From accounts, IT, legals and marketing, you become an expert plate-spinner. Naturally as the business grows these roles can be fulfilled with qualified and experienced individuals.

The above growth pains turned out to be nothing in comparison to what COVID brought to our shores. The world stopped and so did we. Our turnover was 2% of what it usually was, yet the costs continued….

As a business owner I had to step back and decide how to protect the business during such arduous times. Naturally I started by cutting unnecessary expenditure followed by negotiating with our suppliers. A factor that didn’t help was the Government changing their minds so often and the constant changing of colours when it came to countries, needless to say I was glued to the news 24/7.

One thing I was mindful not to do was let anyone go from the company, and it fills me with pride to say that as a relatively new business within the travel industry we didn’t let a single person go during the pandemic. Whilst other travel companies were ditching their loyal staff by the bucketload, we worked very hard to prevent that from happening at A&G. As a result it’s brought us closer together as a team and they’re hungry to pick up from where they left off, our ethos is x10 stronger and we’ve just recorded our best ever month since we started.

Another learning curve was seeing what happens when I stepped out of my comfort zone and try new things when required. Although we diversified into the leisure market, we maintained the personal touch, which is what A&G is all about. We also ventured into the world of Instagram and luxury holidays, which paid off greatly and the industry is definitely recovering fast.

I am a huge believer that when the chips are down there are two types of people – those who stay down and those who get up and keep fighting! I class myself as the latter, and I feel this was instrumental in guiding us through this challenging period.

What do the next five years look like for A&G? 

I’d like a break! I want to play golf twice a week!

In all seriousness now that life is returning to normal, albeit a new normal, my role has changed within the business and I’m excited about how I can take it forward. It’s scary to think our business has been in COVID longer than it hasn’t! However we’ve been through it and now regularly get emails from people wanting to join the company because of our reputation within the industry. So to answer the question, we want to grow the business with the right people whilst maintaining the personal touch towards our customers, for me it’s crucial we don’t lose that DNA. Before COVID we were largely a corporate travel operator but we diversified into the leisure market and have enjoyed a lot of success so we’ll be expanding that arm of the business too. Overall we’re in a better position than before the pandemic so watch this space, and get in touch if you want to book a first class holiday to remember!

We really do have that personal touch and it becomes a two-way street when we get customers sending us their snaps! But seriously, when we’re sent those pictures of them on their travels making memories and thanking us it’s the best feeling.