Wow! What a year! We came into 2021 back in lockdown, a second wave of the pandemic having reignited following a summer that offered glimpses of hope. It was a tough time for many, and where did the gorgeous weather from 2020 go? Despite the challenges of Covid-19, and the ever-changing government advice, sometimes you must go with what feels right... I had made the exciting yet daunting decision in 2021 to open my Sawbridgeworth travel boutique, after postponing in 2020.
With demand for holidays high and with more people wanting the security and confidence of booking through an established, reputable and knowledgeable independent travel agent, opening a high street store just felt right.
Buoyed after hosting our first virtual event in early spring, I made the ambitious decision to take the plunge and go ahead with a planned May 2021 opening. It was all hands to the pump with the decorators briefed to transform the empty shell of our listed building into a warm, welcoming, boutique travel agency. And what an amazing job they did.
Signwriters followed, furniture was delivered, we cleaned, we sanitised and, against all the odds, we officially opened our first shop at 49-51 Knight Street, Sawbridgeworth on 1 May 2021.
I was delighted to be joined by Laura Staniland, who has over 20 years' experience, mainly with Thomas Cook, and Danielle Payne, our concierge and administration assistant who has worked for Your Perfect Travel for many years.
As an opening party couldn’t be arranged during lockdown, we instead had a ribbon cutting ceremony and were honoured to be joined by the incumbent mayor of Sawbridgeworth, Greg Rattey, which was really well attended and got us some lovely coverage in the local media.
Thank you to our helpful and friendly community who have been wonderfully supportive of local businesses, ours included. It was marvellous and inspiring to be able to welcome so many new people into our store over the following weeks and months.
UK travel vlogger, Adam Day, picked up on the town’s friendly reputation and its network of fabulous retail businesses, coming to film a recently aired YouTube documentary which we were proud to be part of.
And we even made the ITV national news in August 2021 when Chris Choi came to interview me about the government’s latest travel announcement.
Keeping on top of regulations and testing requirements, and being able to provide a hands-on personal service is crucial with the ever-changing rules and regulations affecting everyone’s travel plans. With that in mind, it was important for Laura, Danielle and I to go on holiday and experience first-hand travel during a pandemic. Our personal service has always been important; it just feels that it is even more important now.
A massive thank you to everyone who has helped us get through another very challenging year, not only by asking us to book your wonderful holidays but by sending countless messages, writing glowing reviews on Google and Facebook, sharing our social media posts and recommending us to your friends and family.
I am so grateful.
2022 is a new start, and we are very optimistic that travel will be so much easier than in 2021. We are here to help and support you every step of the way.
We have some exciting plans of our own for 2022, including holding our much delayed opening launch event and hosting our first live destination evenings. More details to follow.
We look forward to seeing you and speaking to you, and wish you and your families a very happy, healthy and positive year ahead.