Staffordshire-based Leighton Glover recently switched from running the Chairman’s Club at Blue Bay Travel to becoming a homeworker with the group’s Personal Travel Consultants after 16 years with the company. He tells Juliet Dennis about his career.
Q. How did you first meet Blue Bay Travel founder Stuart Wilson?
A. I met him when we both worked at Asda in Crewe. We only worked together for six months but we became good friends and always kept in touch. He was in grocery management. I worked at Asda for 12 years, starting part-time on the deli counter and then moving to the bakery, doing my master baking course and going into management. It was quite fast-paced but I loved it, particularly making hot cross buns!
Q. Tell us how you got involved, quite literally, in laying the foundations for Blue Bay Travel in 2006?
A. I went over to Stuart’s house one day for a cup of tea. He was having some work done on the garage at his house and laying the floor. I ended up helping him lay the laminate in the garage, which became Blue Bay’s first office. A couple of years later, Stuart and I were having a drink and he said, ‘Why don’t you come and work for me instead of Asda?’ I had never given travel a thought – I’d only ever been to Torremolinos.
[Stuart Wilson] and I were having a drink and he said, ‘Why don’t you come and work for me?’ I had never given travel a thought – I’d only ever been to Torremolinos
Q. What was your first job at Blue Bay?
A. I was in charge of tickets, loading bookings and doing amendments. My first week was unbelievable. I went to Mexico with Stuart on a fam trip to look at hotels, and to help me to get to know the Riviera Maya and Cancun, as that was the agency’s bread and butter. We hired a car and drove down to Playa del Carmen. We visited 30 hotels that week. It was a slog, but for me it was a taste of how the other half lived! At every hotel we were greeted with fizz. We went on the fam trip to create relationships with the hotels that we were doing well with. I was blown away by the quality.
Q. What was your first booking?
A. I did my first booking six months into the job because two of the sales advisors weren’t in. It was a decent booking for £8,000 for Sandals White House [now Sandals South Coast] in Jamaica. I picked up another for Mexico, so I did three on my first day in sales. I got a buzz from it and never looked back.
My first week was unbelievable. I went to Mexico with Stuart on a fam trip to look at hotels, and to help me to get to know the Riviera Maya and Cancun
Q. What did you learn from the Thomas Cook collapse and Covid pandemic?
A. I learnt that it’s all about the customers and putting them first. After the fallout from Cook’s collapse, there was a buzz because we’d got through it and went on to have a brilliant peaks. When Covid came, we had to furlough some people, but sales and customer service staff stayed on. In the first two weeks, customers wanted their money back. We had to ride the storm. The biggest thing was the support from the senior management team. We learnt a lot about how to adapt. It was unbelievable how everyone pulled together. I became a ‘fixer’ and thrived on that. It was hard work but we handled it in the right way.
It seemed the perfect time to give [homeworking] a go, backing up my skills and knowledge from the last 16 years, together with giving me more flexibility
Q. You have just become a self-employed Personal Travel Consultant after working directly for Blue Bay for 16 years. Why?
A. Selling is my passion. I was offered the chance to do this years ago but other opportunities came up at Blue Bay. I’ve been Chairman’s Club executive at Blue Bay Travel for the last year, looking after 3,500 of our most loyal clients. I have a solid customer database now with a loyal following, so it seemed the perfect time to give it a go and focus on selling, backing up my skills and knowledge from the last 16 years, together with giving me more flexibility in my home life.
Q. How are you finding the new job?
A. Already my old clients are coming back to me and booking, which has given me a real lift. I don’t think I could have done this pre-Covid because working from home was not my cup of tea, but the world has evolved since then. I will miss the people in the office but if I want to say hello, Blue Bay is on my doorstep. It’s exciting times.
I don’t think I could have done this pre-Covid because working from home was not my cup of tea, but the world has evolved since then
What have you enjoyed about your 16 years with Blue Bay Travel?
To see the business grow over the years has been great. We started in the garage, then moved to a unit, and then to four units with 120 staff. I am now working from home but can pop into the office to say hello to the team whenever I like. I have always had so much support from the company and the senior team. It was tough during Covid – I lost a bit of the passion. But the biggest factor has been helping people, exceeding expectations and getting them the holiday they want. There’s nothing better than getting clients booked. What you put into your job, you get out. I went to Mexico in the summer of my first year at Blue Bay and then went to the Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia and the Maldives. I then had my wedding anniversary in the Maldives. I don’t think I would have done any of those trips if it wasn’t for working at Blue Bay.