Hays manager of the year title is 20th travel award for serial winner Claire Liptrot.
A top-flight travel agency boss has landed a coveted award after launching a brand new branch from scratch and sending over 1700 people on holiday in its first year.
Claire Liptrot scooped the Merseyside and North Wales Manager of the Year accolade for her work at the shop in Crosby at the annual Hays Travel North West awards in Chester.
It adds to an amazing tally for ambitious Claire who already has 20 travel industry honours under her belt and led her previous team in Ormskirk to achieve the Hays Travel North West Branch of the Year award in 2019.
Claire, an engaged mum of three from Blundellsands in Sefton relishes a challenge so when she was asked to move from the Ormskirk branch to set up the new Hays Travel agency in Crosby in July 2021 she leapt at the task.
She proved to be just the person for the job.
In what was their first full set of figures over the last year she and her colleagues secured exciting getaways for more than 1,700 passengers who explored all parts of the globe from mountainous monuments to tropical tiki bars, bustling city breaks to unspoiled retreats.
In addition to the Manager of the Year title, the Crosby branch also won the award for top foreign exchange sales, handled by go-getting team member Sandra Renton.
Claire who heads up a six-strong team in Crosby admits to being ‘hugely competitive’ when it comes to her work, but all for a good cause.
Claire said: “I love the travel industry and I love to travel so I find my job incredibly motivating. It is great to be able to help people find the holidays of their dreams.”
From the off she was determined to make a success of the new agency and she says the team she now has around her is one of the best in the business.
“They really are great. I couldn’t ask for better. We all pull together and work steadfastly to meet our sales targets."
“When you think that we started off not long after the height of the pandemic, in 2021, with no customers at all and we took on a brand new shop from scratch we have all done incredibly well. The whole team deserves a pat on the back.”
Claire is especially proud of the branch’s young apprentice, Macy Langley who narrowly missed clinching the Apprentice of the Year award, finishing runner up.
Claire said: “Macy is so keen and enthusiastic, we really had our fingers crossed for her and she did really well to get so far. I’m sure she’ll come back with an award next year.”
Also in the dynamic Crosby team are assistant manager Sara Williams, and recent newcomers Laura Young and Leighla (correct) Aindow.
Claire credited them all with working exceptionally hard to build up a good relationship with their customers and keep on top of latest trends in the travel sector.
She said: “It helps so much having such a good team who all have the same goals and they’re so passionate about their jobs. We all want to be the best of the best. One of the reasons I won Manager of the Year is because of their outstanding support.”
Claire started in the business 22 years ago and loves her role with Hays. She previously also worked in the company’s Skelmersdale branch where her super-sales skills won her a trip to Vietnam. She said: “That was a fantastic prize, and one of my favourite places to have visited."
“I must confess that I’ve accrued quite a few awards over the years,” she laughed. “I have won about 20 in all, I’m just so competitive, and always keep a keen eye on the sales tracker."
“We try to keep the momentum up but in the end it’s the customers who win as they go on some fantastic holidays and it’s always great when they pop in to tell us how much they loved it when they come back."
“Customer feedback is good for us too as we can learn from them and their experiences in different places.”
When not at work Claire herself loves to see the world. Her favourite destination she has visited so far is Hawaii.
She said: “It was just lovely, all that we dreamed it would be. We like to get away when we can and explore different places. Other than that then out of work I am happy to spend time simply relaxing with family and friends.”
Claire is currently excited about her next trip, which is a much anticipated five-star one as all the winners of this year’s awards are being treated to a three-night stay in a luxury hotel in Turkey for a Hays Travel Conference.
The awards are organised annually to celebrate the achievements of the Hays Travel North West team and Managing Director Don Bircham said: “It has been a fantastic year and the awards are our way of saying thank you to our wonderful staff who have done such a great job over the years.
“This year we have seen record sales and people really have been keen to book their holidays and they have been beating a path to our doors for the professionalism, expertise and friendliness of our staff."
“Through Hays Travel we are able to offer a brilliant choice and we are not aligned to any particular tour operator so we can sell a wide range of holidays which fit the customer’s requirements."
“We’re sending more people on holiday than ever before and so we’re sending our award-winners away on a break of their own as a reward.”
Hays Travel North West, which is fully ABTA and ATOL-registered and employs 250 staff at 46 shops across North Wales, the North West and Shropshire, was founded by Don Bircham when he opened his first store in Mold, in Flintshire, in 2000.
His network of travel agencies is the main partner of the hugely successful Hays Travel, based in Sunderland, the UK’s largest independent travel agency.
Caption: North Wales and North West Manager of the Year Claire Liptrot, of the Crosby branch of Hays Travel North West, with Managing Director Don Bircham.
North Wales and North West Manager of the Year Claire Liptrot, centre, with Hays Travel North West Managing Director Don Bircham and the team at Crosby, from left, Macy Langley, Laura Young, Sandra Renton and new starter Leighla Aindow.
Pictures by Ian Cooper.