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The Girl About Travel Club is about to change the way women plan and book holidays

By Lyndsey Thomas – 21st July 2020
I’m sick of losing the will to live with travel websites and running the risk of an underwhelming holiday.
I want effortless travel planning for incredible holidays that can’t be Googled.
I want to book with a human – I want to know someone has my back if the sh*t hits the fan again.

 

Some would call me bat-shit crazy for launching a new travel brand in the midst of a global pandemic. Then there are those, including myself, who know that now is exactly the right time to do this – not least because of the reasons above.

You see, I’m itching to travel again. But to travel my way. And if you are like me – a woman who loves to travel and cannot wait until the time is right (for you) to pack your case, round-up your loved ones and head out on an adventure – then take a few minutes to read my reasons behind what some have described as a crazy business to launch right now… until I explain to them my ‘WHY’…

Now, more than ever before, you need a travel brand that has your back. Your best interests at heart. The experience, insight, knowledge, network, impartiality and integrity to give you the confidence to travel again.

book holidays

Girl About Travel – purpose over profit

Girl About Travel is not something I’ve just decided to create halfway through a global crisis; a crisis that has hit the travel industry so hard that it will take years to get back to any sort of BC (before Corona) normal. It might never go back to how it once was… and in my humble opinion, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for you because I don’t really like how some areas of my industry operate.

Right now, we are not a ‘big travel brand’. Far from it. But we hope to be, and we think we can be, once we have enough travel-loving women behind us, supporting our cause, rooting for all we stand for and totally on board with our sole purpose – to inspire you to make amazing memories – without losing the will to live.

Our promise to you is to create a big travel brand that focuses on purpose first and foremost, not just on profit.

Imagine that!

A big part of the reason I set out to develop my own travel brand was because I was pissed off with how the game is played by some of the industry’s big players. Like most big industry players in any sector – it’s really only ever about the bottom line. The P word – PROFITS.

The majority of the big travel brand players don’t care about you and your holiday anymore than the big supermarkets care about what you’re cooking for dinner. They just want to sell a product with the biggest possible margin. And the problem with travel is there isn’t a lot of margin to be had because it’s such a complex landscape of suppliers, wholesalers, intermediaries, travel agents and more.

You could say, well, that’s business! And to an extent you’re right, but travel is what dreams are made of. Travel should always result in amazing memories. Travel should bring with it nothing but joy from the planning right through to coming home, with many incredible memories thereafter.

And as a mum who loves to travel more than anything with my family, my other huge frustration is the amount of time it takes to research our holidays. I want holidays that can’t be Googled and that are not straight out of the pages of a big tour operator brochure, and those holidays take a lot of time to plan.

 

 

How to Book Holidays Guide: The stuff that riles me that you need to be aware of…

I’ve been working on Girl About Travel for over a year, and I’ve been working in the global travel industry for nearly 20 years. Believe me when I say it’s an industry that you really need to understand a little bit more about how it works behind the scenes before you make your travel choices. I certainly don’t want to travel to revert back to what it was BC.

Here is just some of the stuff you need to know…

 

1) Travel brand consolidation 

You’re so much better off when competitors within an industry fight fiercely to serve you. Until they all start to bloody well merge!

Then they don’t have to fight so hard and that’s when customer service goes down the proverbial pan in any industry. Mopping up the competition may help a parent company’s bottom line, but it weakens the marketplace for you, the consumer. And there has been a lot of consolidation going on behind the scenes in the travel industry over the last few years.

And when a crisis hits, that when you really start to see the negative impact consolidation has on the consumer– it creates an ‘all the eggs in one basket’ situation, and it’s you, the consumer, who suffers. This is why it’s proving so hard to get your money back right now.

And here’s the double whammy – all those hours you’ve spent comparing prices for hotels, rental cars and flights across three different OTAs (online travel agents) only to find out the site you were comparing deals are in fact sister companies. Are you feeling annoyed yet?

 

2) The power of the big tour operator

I don’t like how some of the big tour operators operate. Thomas Cook is out of the picture and in my opinion that’s not a bad thing for the consumer. While it’s devastating for a business’s staff when any company goes under, those at the top, more often than not, have a lot to answer for.

For the sake of this article, I’m going to use Thomas Cook as an example:

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1 million people: The number of people were affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook!

It’s ironic really that the company with whom, for decades, people associated with well-protected holidays, should have left so many high and dry and, let’s face it, in a right old pickle.

Knowing first-hand exactly how the industry ticks and has evolved, it was a bit of a ‘I told you so’ moment to all those friends and family members who over the years I have asked – why?

‘Why do you always book your holiday with Thomas Cook?’ There are hundreds of other ways to book your holiday – what is it (or rather ‘what was it’) about Thomas Cook that people seemed to trust?

What it the ‘UK’s Oldest Tour Operator’ trust tag?

Was it the clever ‘Don’t Just Book It Thomas Cook It’ strap line?

Was it the fact they had their own fleet of (pretty sh*t) aircraft?

Or was it one’s ability to be able to pop down to the high street and chat to a travel agent face to face in their local Thomas Cook retail shop? The assurance that comes with a flick through the Thomas Cook brochure with a Thomas Cook travel consultant, who probably hasn’t visited the majority of the hotels and destinations that are featured in that brochure, which is full of Thomas Cook products. Taking flimsy advice from people who are trained only to sell a product rather than offer impartial and professional advice.

My point is, whenever I have asked my circle why they booked through Thomas Cook, their response was always, “Because, well, who else do you book through if you want to be certain what you are getting and want to know if anything goes wrong you are financially projected?”

Yes, Thomas Cook is no more, but there are other operators who operate in exactly the same way.

Both Thomas Cook and Tui were rated worst for package holidays by a survey carried out by Which? in 2019

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3. Who has your back? Separating the travel company wheat from the chaff

COVID19 has unleashed hell on holidaymakers this year, and depending on who you booked your summer 2020 holiday through, the process of rearranging and re-booking can be like pulling teeth.

You want your money back? Well, you’d better get comfy before you pick up that phone. You’ll be on it for a long time if you booked your holiday direct with one of the big boys or online via a third party website such as Love Holidays – and don’t even get me started on Love Holidays.

And if you booked with an independent travel agent then it’s likely that it’s these poor sods who have to sit on the phone on your behalf.

If there is one thing you take from this pandemic where your holidays and travel are concerned – one thing you do differently – then it should be to book with a human.

You see the travel industry is structurally similar to the grocery industry. It’s dominated by a few huge players but is also made up of many under-the-radar local independents, that you might not know about because they don’t have the budget to plaster themselves all over your TV screens in every Coronation Street ad break.

Post-corona, many of us have come to realise just how far our local shops will go to help us out. The same applies to small, specialist tour operators and local independent travel agents – these guys are the ones who are putting the blood sweat and tears into rebooking, trying to get refunds and doing all they can to help their customers.

The sad part is that some of them won’t survive Covid19, and the ones that do need a more level playing field. It’s these guys who will go above and beyond for you, and ensure your holiday is all that you dreamed it would be, and not straight out of a brochure.

It’s good to understand the difference between travel agents and tour operators before you choose who to book with. Click on my article below:

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4. Ridiculously misleading and confusing rating systems

When you get down to detail, the star rating system is meaningless for families wanting a brilliant holiday and a hotel to suit them. The star rating system is all about business centres and conference facilities, and sewing kits and shoe polishing services (seriously – in Europe, three-star hotels must provide guests with these mending ‘necessities’. Bloody ridiculous!).

It’s good to get a grip of the star rating system before you start your hotel search. In my article below I give some insight on what these ratings mean and why we’ve created our own star-rating system aimed at families…

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5. Travel comparison sites

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from a young travel influencer that I came across online.  My eyes have never rolled quite so much as they did when I read this:

“Tripadvisor – if you’re a traveller, you’ve definitely heard of this before! Personal reviews from MILLIONS of users which help you in making those difficult decisions a little easier”

Oh the irony!

Wasting hours trawling through faceless travel websites such as booking.com and Tripadvisor drives me to f**king despair!

My precious time wasted online comparing dozens of contradictory reviews from people across the globe. People with divergent standards and expectations sharing reviews on hotels, resorts, destinations and experiences.

Where do you start? Who do you believe? And most importantly, who do we trust?

Even with my industry experience working alongside major tour operators, airlines and global tourism boards I struggle to easily find the holiday I want for my family.

Why? Because I don’t want to book a one-size-fits-all holiday straight from a big tour operator brochure.

I don’t want to be hurled up in an all-inclusive resort for a fortnight.

And I don’t want to pay the earth for a big-brand five-star hotel just to quell the worry that comes with booking a small independent three-star hotel online.

As a family we want to get off the beaten track. We want to experience the local culture. We want to stay in authentic accommodation, in the best possible location, with plenty to do on our doorstep.

It’s more than just time out in the sun.

This is where Girl About Travel steps in…

We’re here to help you see behind the gloss and get the facts.

I’m not going to lie, I temporarily lost my sh*t when COVID19 took hold and my tourism marketing business and all that I’ve worked for, for five years, went up in a puff of pink smoke. But I also realised quickly that this was my opportunity to create something that could change the face of travel planning for mums and women like me.

Bold statement, I know. But it’s time for something new, a movement, a revolution, that changes the way we travel and puts the focus on you, and what you want from your next trip, travelling experience and family memory-making moment.

Girl About Travel may be new, but the Girl About brand has been steadily growing behind the scenes for some time. Over the last 12 months I’ve built a network of women across the UK. The official Girl About in their cities and counties – Our Girl About Ambassadors are flying the flag for where they live.

 

Staycation itineraries that uncover hidden gems that only locals know about – our locals.

Our Girl About ’48 Hours In’ itineraries have been individually compiled from the heart and are incredible resources  if you are considering a staycation anytime soon and need some help with planning.

There’s over 20 weekend itineraries all written and compiled by our Ambassadors that feature on the Girl About website and we are adding more and more all the time. They really are priceless. Take a look at these detailed itineraries HERE.

These ladies have lots in common – mums, career women etc, but for me, the most important common ground is their all put memory-making before stuff. They prefer holidays to cars, experiences to handbags. Their Girl About remit is to hunt out all that’s amazing about their hometowns and fill their own local blogs, that sit on this website, with reviews and recommendations, ideas and stories to help inspire women and their loved ones to visit the places they call home.  So if you want to stay home for the time being, then we are all to help and inspire you to make amazing memories right here in the UK.

 

We’re proudly female-focused with women at the beating heart of it.

And now is the time to launch this next chapter because I sincerely believe there is a real need for easy, quick-to-access, purposeful and non-bias information for women and mums who put travel as their number one priority after their loved ones.

Girl About Travel is built upon someone solid standing behind each step of your holiday planning journey from inspiration, opinions, research, resources, recommendations right through to booking,

Girl About Travel is all about proper honest opinions and insider knowledge from me; ideas and recommendations from our growing team of Ambassadors (The Girls About across the UK), inspiration from our editorial team and our own star rating system that grades our preferences directly across amazing hotels throughout Europe, in a way that is relevant to us.

Girl About Travel is all about conversation, expert insight and resources in our soon-to-launch women-only Travel Club, right through to booking your holiday with one of our specialist travel agents across the UK, who can tailor-make you and your family your perfect holiday. And should anything go wrong, God forbid, then they will be there for you to get you through whatever is thrown at us.

One last thing ladies… take a couple of minutes to read the following questions – if you’re nodding your head then it’s likely that you’re our type of wanderlust woman and are excited about being a part of Girl About Travel:

 

Book Holidays: I want to avoid…

  • hours wasted scrolling booking and review websites
  • feelings of dread when it’s time to book the next holiday
  • uncertainty over hotels matching reviews
  • over-paying for things that don’t matter to you
  • Taking chances (“Potluck”) on the holiday booking
  • losing the will to live
  • holiday planning dread
  • disappearing down the black hole of holiday research
  • Irrelevant/generic offers
  • The overwhelm from the amount of choice
  • Getting lost in a sea of information

 

So if you’re ONE OF US and you accept the rallying call – the desire to travel your way, then Girl About Travel club launching in September is for you.

> For now, come and join us in our Girl About Travel Community on Facebook for a taste of what to expect in The Girl About Travel Club.

 

I’m looking forward to personally welcoming you into our travel community, and hopefully into the Travel Club in September – if you’ve got this far, I expect it’s right up your street 😉

Lyndsey x

Girl About Founder & Travel Industry Expert

Lyndsey Thomas
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