“Our job is not always as straightforward as getting an individual or a group of people from A to B with their suitcases,” says Elaine Holmes, joint managing director at Traveleads.
Based in Leeds, Traveleads is a leading independent travel management company which specialises in sports travel. It has been the Lawn Tennis Association’s official travel partner for 18 years and in 2013 formed an alliance with the TIA.
“Over the years we’ve had to arrange for the safe transport of some very valuable and unusual cargo, including the Challenge Cup trophy, an African chieftain’s state crown and the treasured pet hamsters of a family relocating to the USA,” said Holmes, who has been at the company for more than 30 years.
Established in 1971, Traveleads first entered the world of sport via Rugby League when the company successfully bid for Great Britain’s tour of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in 1984.
From humble beginnings, the company now has 70 employees at offices in Leeds and Edinburgh and is expected to turn over £30 million this financial year.
“The thing about Traveleads is our exceptional team of staff,” says Holmes. “Our team consists of highly-skilled, experienced people who are passionate about what they do. Having the right people is crucial and customer service is our No.1 priority.
“Our couriers have provided translation services in French A&E departments for rugby players, delivered “proper” baked beans for pre-match meals at overseas fixtures and retrieved any manner of lost or forgotten items, from gum shields to passports to x-ray photographs and contact lenses – it’s all in a day’s work on tour!
“One of the more unusual challenges we’ve had was to convince an airline to carry around 500 family-sized packets of breakfast cereal as ‘excess baggage’. The team had recently signed a sponsorship deal with the cereal brand and at 15 minutes’ notice – while the team was checking in for their flight - the sponsors dropped off 20 large supermarket cartons of cereal at the airport for the team to take to their World Championships! And, yes, we did get it all on board!”
“We work with around 40 national governing bodies and handle their travel needs, whether that is flights, accommodation for individuals or team events” explains Holmes. “We price check everything to ensure our customers are getting the best deal, but we also ensure they have flexibility on their tickets and can take all their kit on board with them.
“We also often find ourselves handling travel plans for people with very high media profiles and a part of our job is to protect their privacy and try to allow them some respite from media pressure while they are travelling and competing. We always give a lot of thought to which airports and airlines we use and try to advise on hotels and transportation companies who can be discreet and efficient.”
While Traveleads, which has also worked with the Sport and Recreation Alliance for over 20 years, promises to offer the lowest prices to customers, it is the level of support that makes the company stand out from its competitors, with 24-hour telephone support available for clients and 7-day working.
“Whilst travelling with national teams we’ve been tear-gassed in Papua New Guinea, had beer bottles thrown at us in Brisbane and had a stand-off with Hells Angels in New Zealand,” says Holmes. “Our job is to make life that little bit less stressful for our clients who, at the end of the day, have a job to do and need to stay competition focused – so we always try to go the extra mile, whatever it takes!”
Traveleads is the preferred supplier of the Tennis Industry Association and offers members an efficient and cost-effective service to individuals, clubs, teams and businesses. To find out more, visit www.traveleads.co.uk