Mell Meets…Maria, Sales Manager at TravelBag

Having recently won six British Travel Awards, including two golds for Australia and Southeast Asia, TravelBag is going from strength to strength. We sat down with sales manager, Maria Cunningham, at the Mell Square branch, to find out her top tips for planning your perfect break in 2019.

Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role?

I’m Maria Cunningham, sales manager for Travelbag Solihull. I’m responsible for 17 travel consultants and two assistant managers here in Solihull, spread across our shop and the call centre. Although no two days are the same, mainly my role involves supporting and coaching the team, ensuring they’re giving the best possible level of service and expertise to help our customers choose the right holidays, as well as being responsible for local marketing, shop operations and so on.

What makes TravelBag different to other travel agents?

Our team are specialists in long haul travel, and between us we have travelled to many different destinations. We believe that this combination means we’re better placed than anyone else to make personalised recommendations and advice to help our clients choose their dream holiday. Many of the team have worked for Travelbag for over 10 years, and a testament to the expertise they have developed in that time is the number of repeat customers those individuals have. This is a very competitive industry, and we know that customers would not come back to us if they hadn’t experienced such great service from people who have taken the time over the years to understand their needs.

Furthermore, as part of the Dnata Group, we’re able to offer a very wide range of holidays and services at competitive prices due to the huge buying power of our parent company.

What can customers expect when they visit TravelBag in Mell Square?

You can expect a very warm welcome from a friendly, knowledgeable team. We have a nice, relaxed environment to be able to discuss our clients’ holiday requirements, with a consultant that is a specialist in the area that you wish to travel to and can give personal recommendations and advice. We also make a great cuppa!

What are your top tips when it comes to booking a holiday?
  • Do some research and get an idea of where you want to travel to and what kind of holiday you want.
  • Listen to the advice of the experts in how to plan your holiday to get the most from your trip.
  • Be realistic about what you will get for your budget, our team will always give you advice about where offers are available that can add special touches to your holiday over the phone or in store.
  • When you find a great deal, book it – really great deals sell out quickly to ensure you don’t lose out, you must be ready to pay a deposit to secure it!
  • Book with a reputable agent, and make sure they are a member of ABTA and have an ATOL licence. This means, in the event something unforeseen happens to your holiday, you will be protected.
What are your recommendations for booking holidays on a budget?
  • Book in advance if you are tied to school holidays, you will get the best airfares by doing this.
  • If you are not tied to school holidays and can be more flexible, sign up to our newsletters and follow the Travelbag Facebook page to get updates on special offers – we have had some amazing offers but the booking windows are limited so you have to be ready to pay a deposit when a great deal comes up.
Looking forward to the new year, can you recommend some must-see destinations for 2019?
  • Japan, book in the spring to see the famous cherry blossoms in 2020.
  • Mauritius is great for an active or relaxing holiday, for families and couples alike.
  • Costa Rica for spectacular scenery and wildlife with a great climate.
Is there anywhere on your own travel bucket list that you’re planning on visiting in the New Year?

In the new year I’m heading to New York, not for the first time, but for a new experience as we are taking our young family so really looking forward to seeing a different side of one of my favourite cities!

Visit the team in-store on Drury Lane to discover your perfect 2019 getaway…

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