There is a UK travel agency which generates much attention and affection among the Spanish specialist travel press - Hays Travel. There is admiration here for what John and Irene Hays created out of modest beginnings in 1980 and for the story of when a competitor emerged in those early days. They offered free travel insurance as a competitive ploy. It nearly sank them, but it was to be the making of Hays.
The company grew, and in November last year had 190 branches, the personnel adhering to a philosophy of face-to-face selling - excellent customer service. The personnel were the key. In 2018, when Hays achieved one thousand million pounds in sales, the couple threw a party for staff in their garden.
There is further admiration for Hays having remained solidly independent.
This admiration was cranked up even more when, in November last year, Hays announced the purchase of the licences for the Thomas Cook network of agencies - all 555 of them. It was going to be a challenge, but John and Irene Hays were up for it. However, they - like everyone else - couldn’t have foreseen what was to happen. They had partially resolved one crisis, only to be faced with a far greater one.
The UK quarantine for the Balearics and the Canaries was the killer blow. For the first time ever, Hays Travel is having to lose part of its precious resource - its people. It’s desperately sad, and the move is lamented here as it is in the UK.
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