• June 11, 2024

Interview: celebrating 35 years of family legacy with Destinations Unlimited

Interview: celebrating 35 years of family legacy with Destinations Unlimited

Interview: celebrating 35 years of family legacy with Destinations Unlimited 1024 684 micebook.

When Nikki Buse joined her dad’s representation company Destinations Unlimited back in 1991, she would never have imagined that 33 years later she would be hosting a celebration to mark the company’s 35th anniversary, surrounded by family and industry friends.

We caught up with Nikki to get the lowdown on her journey…

How did it all begin?

I was working with Abbey Life insurance in Bournemouth after I left college, which didn’t pay particularly well, and one day my dad said why don’t you come and work for me. So, I did. I had always had a passion for travel, my mum is Swiss so it’s in my blood. I also travelled a lot as a child as my dad had previously worked at an event agency delivering events and incentives and we got to travel with him sometimes.

My dad set up Destinations Unlimited with his business partner Alan Davies. Initially I mainly helped on the admin side, but after a couple of years I started to travel on fam trips accompanied by Alan to begin with, but eventually on my own. I think my first trip was to Canada and we were staying at the Fairmont in Toronto, and I was so excited. Then I moved into sales too, and became managing partner when Alan left, eventually buying my dad out about 15 years ago. I paid him a bit off every month until I became sole owner of the business and he retired.

What have been your biggest highlights and challenges since taking over the business?

We’ve had many peaks and troughs over the years, with 9/11, the financial crisis and other challenges, but Covid was without a doubt the biggest challenge we have faced. It was just horrendous as we basically had no income, but we did what we could to learn new digital skills and keep in touch with our DMCs and clients virtually.

On the highlights side, winning gold for best representation company at the M&IT Awards last year was a real high for me.

How has the industry evolved?

I think the biggest change is the number of agencies out there. There are so many more than there used to be, and new companies are popping up all over the place. It’s also more competitive in the representation space too.

When my dad started the company, there wasn’t really anyone representing DMCs, maybe one or two, but there are lots now. Some mix it up and do hotels as well as DMCs but we have always just focused on DMCs and currently work with 34.

These are spread across Europe, the USA, Australia, the Middle East, South and East Africa, Canada, South America and the Caribbean.

Your son Luke is now working with you. Do you think he’ll carry on the family legacy?

He really interested in travel, much more so than his brother, so we thought it would be great experience for him to join the business and get some insight into Destinations Unlimited and the industry. I think he would still like to go off and do a bit of travel independently, so we’ll see what happens. But it’s great to have Luke on board to engage with the next generation of buyers.

And Roger Bradley recently joined you. How did that come about?

We’ve known each other forever, are great friends and get on so well, so it made sense. We did talk about working together a few years ago, then Covid happened, and after that he went back to working for Canada, but the time just felt right. It works well with him being based in London, as I am down in Bournemouth, so its easier for him to take on more of the London meetings and sales calls, or pop into town for events.

It helps of course that he is so well known in the industry and has a great network of contacts too.

Why are you still here? What’s the secret to your success?

I think it’s because of the strong relationships we have built over the years. We are a family company that cares, and we are always here to help our clients and DMCs. Many of the people we work with have become close friends over the years, and we always make an effort to keep in touch and maintain those strong relationships, even during Covid.

Resilience is also important. There will always be obstacles that we have to navigate, but the upside is that each new challenge gives you the opportunity to grow and learn.

Finally, what does reaching this 35-year milestone mean to you both personally, and tell us more about how you celebrated?

We had a party in February, and despite the weather being dreadful, we had a great turnout with around 100 people to celebrate and an abba tribute band – what more could you want?! Having my parents there too was special too. They probably didn’t know that many people who were there, but they could feel the love in the room for me and were very proud. It was quite emotional and overwhelming.

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