Norwich travel agent thanks “resilient” people of Norfolk for supporting business for 30 years

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:28 06 November 2018

Staff from Nortfolk's Skyplane Worldchoice celebrate 30 years in business. Picture: Skyplane Worldchoice

Staff from Nortfolk's Skyplane Worldchoice celebrate 30 years in business. Picture: Skyplane Worldchoice

Skyplane Worldchoice

A firm which claims to be Norwich’s longest established independent travel agents, will be celebrating 30 years on Hellesdon high street this month.

Co-founders Mike Lake and Lawrence Lowe took a risk when opening Skyplane Worldchoice in 1988, with only five years experience between them.

But the gamble paid off, with the pair travelling the globe for the next three decades and surviving turbulent years in the industry.

Mr Lake, now owner, runs his team of four from the same office, sending around 3,000 people on holiday per year.

He said: “I remember so well when we opened. We didn’t have any customers. We had invested in the basic tools of the day; a telephone and a viewdata system linked to the tour operators of the time such as Thomson and Intasun.”

After just a month of trading, the pair hit their first setback as the Pan Am 747 Airline disaster made headlines and knocked consumer confidence.

“We persevered and gradually made bookings. Villas in Portugal were popular, an 18-30 group of friends. I organised a ski group and Yugoslavia was a really popular destination. We’ve always had a great relationship with Norwich airport and increasingly more flights were added which proved popular,” he said.

Mr Lake has found that nowadays consumers want more culture and educational-based experiences, going further afield to countries like the US and the Far East in search of adventure.

Mr Lake continued: “30 years ago, Australia for most people was a trip of a lifetime. We now have customers with family there who travel every year.

“It was a time when airlines didn’t bother about how much luggage you took. You checked in at the airport and security was a breeze. You just had to remember to buy enough film for your camera, arrange your travellers cheques and stick a cassette in your Walkman.”

He said: “Awful terrorist atrocities such as 9/11 and the Tunisian shootings saw huge travel setbacks but the good people of Norfolk are resilient and will always have a thirst for travelling.”

As a thank you to customers, Skyplane will be giving away a month of gifts to customers, culminating in a weekend for two in Paris.

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