As Fare Wise Travel on Hungerford High Street celebrates 25 years in business, MD Veronica Bailey reveals the secret behind their success that has lasted over two decades….
What got you interested in travel?
“I was sort of born into it, I started life in Bolivia but spent sections of my childhood in Burma, Nigeria, Canada and Egypt. My father was a mining engineer and we just followed where he went.
I loved the buzz of a new country, discovering different cultures, flavours and particularly the food, I will never forget the delicious vegetable dishes I had as a child in Egypt where the people were poor, but they were able to make beautiful meals from very little.
It taught me to be resilient and adapt to different perspectives, for example in Burma my school was very basic: simply some benches with chalk and slate. Travelling makes you confident and able to get on with a variety of people”
What happened when you came to the UK?
“I got a job in Banbury working for the Tourist information centre but as it turned out, a few opportunities came along at once and quite by chance a friend mentioned they were starting a Travel Agency Competence course and I thought I’d tag along. Two years later I emerged overqualified for just about every junior travel agency role. Luckily WHSmith, who at the time were offering travel packages, took me on…”
How was Fare Wise Travel born?
“It was a series of synchronistic events that emerged from my frustration that we could only sell products from one company. I just knew that people weren’t getting the best deal because travel companies were so fragmented, and I wanted to open something independent.
Luckily, some clients at the time became investors and my boss followed suit, suddenly we had enough hands-on deck to launch the company! Working tirelessly from home, on the 16th of October 1992, Fare Wise Travel was born just as last-minute deals were coming out for travellers and we made some large bookings, including flying a young football team over to the States.
We gained enough capital to open our shop on 115 High Street on the September 13th 1993.
It just sort of came together, I think the right people believed in the company and customers kept coming back”
What’s the secret behind your longevity?
“We offer something unique: a free service that coordinates all of the parts of travel together that can make it stressful. We do the research for customers, we’ve been to these destinations and can offer solid advice, but above all we listen to what they want and help them make informed choices.
Travelling is now more accessible than ever, but it can take careful research to coordinate the right accommodation, location, flights and transfers.
A customer can come to us with an idea and we act like their fairy godmother, pulling together the best deals available on the market to make their vision a reality!”
What brought Fare Wise into the 21st century?
“I think the most important part of our business is our staff, we invest in our team and they tend to stay with us a long time. We take on apprentices and engage with the local community, for example we offer the Tourist information service free of charge. I believe that keeps us current and it is important to me to invest in our town and its own tourism.
We have embraced new technology, which enables us to search large databases for the best deals and bring them all together whilst they are still current. We have also joined the world of social networking and post regular offers for packages across the world.”
What can I expect coming to you?
“We can take the stress out of travelling. When you come to us, you will always speak with a real person and we are there for you from booking to aftercare.
We can coordinate groups with a wide variety of needs, so if you want the whole family to come on holiday from different locations in the UK, we can do it for you by finding the right accommodation and destination for all ages.
We can make sure you are travelling at the right time of year for your destination, so you avoid any monsoon seasons and make sure you have the right documentation for your travel. I will never forget a frantic call from a man who had booked a flight home to the UK that transited through Moscow and hadn’t realised he would need a Visa. We can make sure those mistakes don’t happen!
I suppose we help keep people safe, informed and make sure they find a destination that works for them and the whole party. We also offer aftercare so if anything goes wrong, we are on the end of the phone to help you.”
Won’t I pay a premium compared to online deals?
“Absolutely not, we work like a broker, so we can search the wider market and get you the best deal available.
When you choose something online, you don’t get an awful lot of background as to what you are booking but if you book through us we can advise the best places to stay and eat out, so you know what you are getting in advance. It’s almost like having a well-travelled friend!
Lots of people believe that if they go online it will be cheaper but these companies are adding their own margin with very little back in the way of customer service.”
Please pop in any time to have a chat if you want any travel advice.
Fare Wise Travel
Kennet House 19 High Street Hungerford Berkshire RG17 0NL