There’s a new destination in Prudhoe if you’re looking to take a break, catch some sun or go on staycation. We chatted to Seaside Travel manager Meaghan Johnson.

Twenty-one years after launching in Easington, Seaside Travel recently opened its eighth branch here in Prudhoe.

The North East chain now has a total of nine branches and we popped in to the one on Front Street to find out more about the team and the business.

PB: Seaside Travel has been around since 2003, tell us about how the business got started… MJ: Owner Nicola Park opened her first branch in 2003 in Easington, so Seaside Travel is turning 21 in December which is really exciting. The first branch in Easington is on Seaside Lane, which is where the name Seaside Travel originates from.

PB: Your new location in Prudhoe was the eighth branch of Seaside Travel, what’s been the secret of your success in growing the company? MJ: Boldon opened four weeks after Prudhoe so we’re now eight of nine!

Nicola always looks for communities and small parades of shops – she loves the little local retail areas and would never open in big shopping centres. She loves to get to know her customers and the personal touch of being in a small town or village is exactly what she looks for when considering another shop – she picks these locations as she knows her business model and she knows her shop will fit here.

PB: What have been the highlights and challenges of the past eleven years in business? MJ: The highlights would be winning so many awards. The company itself and the branches in their own rights have won so many different awards, from regional to national. The main challenge would be COVID when the whole world came to a stand still and you couldn’t travel anywhere! All Seaside staff worked from home and Nicola never had to let anyone go during it which was amazing.

PB: Did your new branch generate jobs in Prudhoe? MJ: Yeah it definitely did! Half of the team are from Prudhoe and the other half are from surrounding areas – we are a branch which is made up of experienced and inexperienced staff – come in and see us.

PB: Tell us about the team… MJ: I’m Megs and I’m the Manager at the Prudhoe branch. I have worked in travel for eight years in total and came out with qualifications in different areas within travel. I spent four years working at Hays in Hexham until I moved to Metrocentre for another four years eventually working my way up to manager here at Seaside Prudhoe and I am loving every minute of it.

We then have Abbie who is our assistant manager and has qualifications from working at Hays for seven years before joining us to become a Seasider – she is doing amazing and I couldn’t wish for a better AM!

We then have Cheryl, who came to us with no travel experience at all and she is absolutely flying now you would never know. Cheryl owned her own cleaning business and did this for a long time before fancying a job change and coming to Seaside with us. She has just got her own home and we are so happy for her.

Next we have Janet who has ten years experience at TUI before coming to us. She did take a break from travel for six years working in schools and doing events organising at a care home but decided travel had never left her and she wanted to get back in the game. She’s also a brown belt in karate so be careful!

We also have Susan, who has worked at a lot of different branches over the past 11 years at Hays, and Abbie and I have both worked with Susan before. She did leave to go into health care but she also decided travel had never left her passions and has joined us as a Seasider. We are so happy we get to see her again and we know she will be an amazing addition to the team!

PB: A running theme in this issue is ‘use it or lose it’ and why we need to support physical businesses – why should people come to a travel agent rather than booking their holiday online? MJ: People should come into an agent opposed to booking online because we pride ourselves in always trying to beat those online prices, so why would you not? We offer a face to face experience and we are right on your doorstep so no travelling to somewhere further away or sitting in traffic – just pop along to Front Street!

We always provide honesty and knowledge of different destinations as we have all been to many different places between us. You can also come straight in to see us if there is a problem or you have any questions you don’t have to sit on hold on the phone for hours to get through to anyone.
We do all of your tickets and online check-ins for you too, so you don’t have to do that yourself.

We build relationships with all of our customers at Seaside. You can come in for a cuppa and a chat with us or if it’s a Friday come in and get yourself a glass of Prosecco! If Cheryl’s in, the bar is always open from 3pm but she would open it at 10am if I let her!

PB: What destinations are trending at the minute? MJ: At the moment its not about particular destinations but late bookings are popular, 100 per cent. We are getting so many people coming in and booking for the next month or two at the moment as there really are some amazing deals to be had. The whole world is totally open from bucket and spade holidays to cruises, UK breaks to mini tours, long haul destinations to overseas weddings.

PB: Going on holiday is important to a lot of people, but can be expensive, do you have any tips on getting great holiday deals? MJ: My tip would be just pop in and see us… we will get you the best deal and know you’re being looked after!