Hemel ex-Thomas Cook worker hopes new travel business will really take off
It really is a case of back to basics for Linsey Haywood as she unveils a new travel agent for the town.
After the closure of Thomas Cook in September, which sent shockwaves in Hemel as well as across the country, staff were laid off and customers seemed genuinely devastated for them.
But independent travel agent Hays approached former Thomas Cook employee Linsey to see if she would take up the reins and now, the new store opens on Monday.
"I had worked at Thomas Cook for 15 years and I guess my name had been passed around. The thing is, once you have worked in travel, it's in your blood," she said.
Linsey - the new store manager - even approached three of her former colleagues and they jumped at the chance to join her.
But it's not all bells and whistles for the team as they have really gone back to basics - cleaning out the shop themselves, setting up wi-fi, getting help from business contacts as well as being spurred on by former Thomas Cook customers.
"It's back to basics, which is nice," said Linsey. "Butlins has even printed leaflets for us. Customers have been wishing us well. They care more about that staff. It's such a nice feeling."
"This is a huge life line for those staff members, and just as much for the hundreds of loyal customers."
The business model for Hays is different to Thomas Cook as well, which Linsey is quick to point out, which she believes helps it be more competitive against the growing intrenet travel market.
"We can book any operator because it's independent. Because, over the years, with Thomas Cook, you would have to sell through a limited number operators. But with Hays, it's quite refreshing.
"Hays is also very focused on social media. It's a nice mix."
The store is in The Marlowes and opens on Monday.