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INVESTMENT IN PEOPLE TURNS LEISURE TRAVEL SPECIALIST AROUND FINANCIALLY

Posted June 9, 2015
734% growth since the Recession – despite tough trading environment and online disruption

Pretoria, 10th June 2015: Leisure travel specialist, Pentravel, today announced at the launch of its new “Sunshine” stores in Pretoria’s Woodlands Mall – one of two pilots that elevates the relationship between consultants and customers through retail design - that its enjoyed growth of 734 percent over the past five years, up from a –R2,7 mil loss in 2009 to R20 mil profit PBIT in 2014. This despite prevailing industry challenges and tough trading conditions experienced since the Recession. 

CEO Sean Hough explains, “We don’t sell holidays, we sell happiness. In other words we go above and beyond to create extraordinary customer experiences that leave a long-lasting impression. In so doing, we connect with all of our customers and make them feel special by sharing in the excitement of their holiday.”

This approach has served Hough’s company well. Besides its dramatic financial turnaround in a few short years, it reports that 61 percent of sales are from repeat and referral business while consumer complaints site Hello Peter supports this, scoring it an impressive 91 percent customer satisfaction rating. “We’re proud of these figures as, besides dispelling the common myth that a physical travel expert is no longer relevant, its testament to our focus on building strong, sustainable relationships with our customers that keeps them coming back,” says Hough.

Specialists in beach, cruise, snow and guided holidays, Pentravel’s carved a popular niche for itself after 32 years in business by packaging bespoke international holidays and local breaks.
“Our consultants have a passion for travel and must have extensive international travel experience when they join us,” says Hough. “We then invest in their ongoing education by sending them to exciting places like Machu Picchu, The Great Wall of China and Galapagos Islands. This is wonderful for their personal adventures, while our customers enjoy the depth of experience that these once-in-a-lifetime trips afford and is why we retain our competitive position in the leisure travel industry.”

He goes on to say that cultivating relationships is central to the company’s philosophy and business ethic and is also the impetus behind its national revamp of its 30 bricks and mortar retail stores. The design, overseen by branding and interior specialists Teritory, has gutted the shop space so as to open it up and invite customers in. “A quarter of our sales are walk-ins so our new look shops respond to this aesthetically.”

Inside, customers are advised on holiday options at “interactive” consulting desks. This allows everyone to see the screens simultaneously and enhances the conversation. Other features include a simpler, fresher layout; iPad browsing station, wireless phones and a dynamic external video wall.

“The inspiration behind our new stores is simple: To elevate our customer’s experience. This means giving them our undivided attention, understanding their interests - such as cruising, skiing or beach - and then advising on holidays that match what they’re looking for.”

In so doing, Hough believes “we’re making people’s lives better – both our staff and customers - and this is what will continue to sustain us as a business long into the future.”
Pretoria’s Woodlands and Durban’s Watercrest stores are the first of Pentravel’s national retail revamp. Its 28 other stores will follow suit in coming years.