A HOLIDAY firm plans to double in size over the next 12 months ahead of an expected “travel gold rush” in the industry.

Not Just Travel, based near Bournemouth Airport, offers holidays through more than 800 franchised agents working from home.

It says March was a record month for franchise sales and holiday bookings.

Co-founder Steve Witt said the business would double in size by creating four new divisions which would be unveiled over the coming months and would operate like separate businesses “but together”. He said this would make Not Just Travel “the dominant force in our industry”.

He said the new divisions would boost the company’s recruitment, sales, referral and customer offerings, driving profit for members. It was also adding new features to improve customer experiences and was investing in technology including a bespoke customer database.

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Mr Witt said: “We have done incredibly well during the pandemic. We’ve continued to maintain, invest and grow the business. Our trade partners have been telling us how strong our holiday sales are compared to our competitors. In fact, we’ve been privy to information that shows our year-on-year or month-on-month sales have been as much as double our closest competitors.

“In March we achieved 50 per cent more holiday sales than January. That’s previously unheard of in travel sales as normally the January booking season, known as Peaks in the industry, equates to 50-100 per cent more bookings than any other month. In fact, March 2021 was our busiest month in 14 months and nearly double our average month for the last two years.

“We sold more holidays in January-March 2021 than we did the last six months of 2020. Average customer bookings values have increased significantly to £4,356 per booking, up from £2,800 per booking back in 2019. It really does show how there is so much pent-up consumer demand for travel, as well as how consumer confidence is bouncing back.

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“People are also booking further in advance. Over 60 per cent of our bookings are for future seasons i.e. from Winter 2021/22 onwards. In the past that would be more like 20 per cent. Our top selling destination is the UK, selling at a ratio of 3:1 compared to our next top selling destination which is the USA, and believe me, we are selling a lot of holidays to the USA right now.”

The four new divisions will be headed by Cherie Richards, who joined as chief business development officer last year and will become chief of staff, responsible for day-to-day business and preparing for the predicted travel boom.

Mr Witt said: “The last 12 months have been tough on the entire industry, but we’ve used the time to plan and prepare for rapid growth over the next 12 months. This consistent success throughout the hardest times means we can be confident, bold and expand ahead of the travel gold rush. This is a new beginning for the travel industry and the next two years will be a boom time. As a result, we will see an even bigger and stronger family of staff, travel consultants and homeworkers, each focused on helping even more customers find their dream holidays. As part of this, we look forward to creating more opportunities for those people already in travel to be involved.

“Obviously, when you are much smaller, it’s easier to double or even quadruple in size. In fact, in our early days we were seeing triple-figure growth at times. But now, at our size, even 10 per cent growth would be fantastic and most companies would be very excited by this. However, our plan to double in size blows away all competition.”