A Kilwinning family firm has been named as Britain’s top travel agent.

Thorne Travel were announced as the Travel Trade Gazette's Top UK and Ireland Travel Agency 2018 at its awards bash last Thursday.

The award is dedicated entirely to recognising excellence in retailing with over 700 entries.

Shona Thorne, Owner, of Thorne Travel Group, said: “We are all over the moon; we pride ourselves in being a family business who want to provide the best experience for our customers”.

“As a business our values are that we truly believe that family is everything and provide bespoke, affordable travel, making memories that will last forever.

“As a Thorne Travel family we have grown to a team of 20 over the last nine years and as a team we are always looking at ways to enhance what we currently do.

“Our honorary team member (seven-year-old Ava) said ‘I think people like us and we won because you have sweets for the kids and John’s cocktails for the grown ups’.”

The awards comprise 19 different categories, highlighting stand-out stores in 12 different regions, plus 7 nation-wide categories for different kinds of agency business and UK & Ireland’s No.1 Travel Agency 2018.

Thorne Travel collected their first award early in the evening for the Top Scottish Travel Agency – They were up against tough competition but in the end it was Christiane McCorgray & Hilary Kerr who walked on stage to pick up the award, but it was not the last of the evening.

Ultimately an overall winner from the 12 regions had to be chosen and Thorne Travel had their name called out once again called the award for Top UK and Ireland Travel agency of the year for 2018.

The judges felt that the way Thorne Travel create a customer experience by putting their clients first with having Samantha Garritty as their customer journey manager ensured the experience is enjoyable from start to finish.

Their innovative use of Digital Marketing as this has ensured they are able to reach customers from all over the world, putting North Ayrshire on the map. The fundraising Thorne Travel does for Ayrshire’s Cash for kids and community charities ensured they won the prestigious title.

A comprehensive panel of around 30 different suppliers, who work closely with high street agencies, who fully understand the travel industry and business models, will then rate each store on a scale of 1-5.

A journalist joined by a supplier partner, visited each of the five stores on the shortlist in January/February where they spent one to two hours meeting the team and assessing the store against specific criteria.