We founded Turquoise in 2002. You might be thinking that this was not an auspicious year to start a tour operator – the second Gulf War raged and the bird flu epidemic was at its zenith, yet my wife Sue and I decided to leave our comfortable (yet unfulfilling) jobs and join Brian (who had already left our previous company) at his kitchen table to start up on our own.
Although we only had one computer, which Sue used to write our first brochure, the hardest thing was to think of a name. After numerous options and sleepless nights, we settled on Turquoise. I have always loved the ubiquitous Tiffany blue box, and their branding has always been delightful and in many ways inspirational. Our aim was to create an upmarket travel company which put some glamour and romance back into the travel market and felt that ‘Turquoise’ not only ticked these boxes, but that the colour beautifully represented some of the seas and oceans which surrounded our favourite destinations at the beginning.
It was an incredibly busy and difficult time… they say the three things you should never do at once are move home, get married and start a business… well we went for all three and we are delighted to say we’re still around to tell the tale!
From day one we have been incredibly proud of both the Turquoise brand and the array of products we promote; two things which have always been at the heart of our company. We have never been afraid of trying anything new or unusual – they say imitation is the highest form of flattery and if this is so, we have been royally flattered over the years! Our objective has always been to be original and innovative in our product selection and some our greatest successes have derived from being different from the rest in some way or other. The five key words which have been printed on our business cards from the beginning and remain core to all we do are Authentic, Discerning, Original, Refreshing and Unique.
We now focus our efforts on three key markets: honeymoons, family holidays and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, but in the early days it was honeymoons that allowed us to gain a stronghold in a busy and competitive marketplace. I’m rather hesitant to admit that honeymoons were never really the plan, but a fantastic opportunity with the Financial Times and The Islands of Tahiti presented itself, and the rest is history. Sue had identified Tahiti as one of the untapped destinations where we could excel – how right she was! Tahiti and the South Pacific remain a spiritual home for all of us at Turquoise and I am delighted that we are the top tour operator in the UK to many of the islands, both in terms of numbers and expertise. From this initial promotion, we started to receive honeymoon enquiries thick and fast and we quickly realised that although many companies offered honeymoons, no-one specialised in them – there was our niche!
For me, it was all about the little details and with my marketing background and passion for all things creative, I was determined to create a brand (the most romantic travel company in the UK) as well as a business. In the early days we embossed all our quotes with a wax seal (until the fumes of hot wax became unbearable in the office!) and I hand-delivered each quote with a red rose and bottle of Champagne. Our honeymoon business blossomed from then on, and nearly 15 years later honeymoons and special occasion holidays still represent 60% of our business.
It was only natural, after selling all those honeymoons (over 10,000 to date), that many happy couples should return to us with a family in tow. Therefore, in the summer of 2014, we launched our first family brochure and created a dedicated area of our website to fill the minds of busy mums and dads with holiday ideas and inspiration. The family market continues to grow month-on-month and a large proportion of our staff members now have a family of their own. It is very much a ‘from our family to yours’ operation and I absolutely love hearing about some of the amazing family itineraries the team put together each week for our clients.
I believe the secret of making anything a success in life is passion and motivation. I am so proud of our team and their passion for the destinations we sell, passion for travel and discovering new places, passion for delivering good, old-fashioned customer service, passion for finding the perfect holiday for each and every client (even if it’s not always an easy job), passion for the company, the brand and finally each other.
24 May 22Partner News
The Turquoise Holiday Company Celebrates 20 Years of Holidays & HoneymoonsIslands and beaches specialist tour operator The Turquoise Holiday Company is delighted to announce ...Read moreThe Turquoise Holiday Company Celebrates 20 Years of Holidays & Honeymoons - News & announcementsIslands and beaches specialist tour operator The Turquoise Holiday Company is delighted to announce its 20th anniversary. As well as celebrating the hurdles and high points of the last 20 years, Turquoise will be launching a wave of celebratory offers and sharing its best kept secrets of bespoke luxury travel over the coming months as the team applaud 20 years of planning dream holidays. Founded in 2002, by Sue & James Bell and Brian Barton, this family-owned and run business began with a mission to create a truly unique travel business and put the romance and glamour into the industry. With a focus on customer care and making truly memorable holidays, Sue, James and Brian started like all great small businesses, at the kitchen table. The Gulf War raged, and the bird flu epidemic was at its zenith and with just one computer between them, the brand emerged from the idea of the ubiquitous Tiffany blue box; the colouring becoming a firm representation of the gin-clear, turquoise seas and oceans which surrounded Sue, James and Brian’s favourite destinations. Launching the business with honeymoons at the core, Tahiti and the islands of the South Pacific remain a spiritual home for Turquoise. At the start, James hand-delivered each honeymoon itinerary with a red rose and bottle of champagne, creating possibly the most romantic travel company in the UK. The business blossomed and 20 years later honeymoons still represent over 50% of the business, with a 30% increase in enquiries having been seen since the pandemic, as couples look for certainty and advice post-covid. 20 years on and over 10,000 honeymoon bookings later (80% of which have used the gift list service as well), Turquoise is well and truly embedded into the lives of thousands of couples. It was only natural then that many have returned with a family in tow and in summer 2014, the first family brochure was launched, with a dedicated website full of holiday ideas and inspiration for busy parents. The family market continues to grow month on month, and to date, Turquoise has booked over 5,000 family holidays and arranged uncountable, once-in-a-lifetime celebrations. In 2021, Turquoise expanded its portfolio to include short haul destinations for the first time, introducing hand-picked holidays to Greece, Italy and Ibiza with a curated collection of hotels that have been chosen as they honour Turquoise Holidays’ founding values; boutique travel centered around clear, turquoise waters. Here are some other Turquoise statistics:
- There has been a seismic shift in booking patterns, with huge demand for late bookings now ‘on trend’. Historically, 80% of Turquoise’s holidays were booked for travel six months in advance and beyond. Now the team is seeing the reverse, with 80% being booked for travel within six months
- Holiday spend is up by 10-15%. This has been fuelled by a weak pound, especially against the dollar, rising air-fares and tax on fuel costs
- Christmas and October Half Term 2022 are already very busy, with prices up 20% on pre-pandemic levels for peak dates
- 40% of Turquoise clients are repeat bookers
- 30% go on two long haul holidays per year
- The average cost of a 7-to-10-night beach holiday has risen from £5,000 to over £12,500 over the past 20 years
- It is now more expensive to travel short haul from UK than long haul during summer school holidays
- 50% of Turquoise clients show interest in staying in an overwater bungalow
- 70% of Turquoise clients would ideally like a private pool
- 27% of Turquoise clients travel one way in economy class, and one way in business class