EXETER — It’s a new chapter in the history of Exeter-based Ellison Travel and Tours, as the 37-year-old business has opened an office in London.
President and CEO Doug Ellison founded the travel and tours business in 1980 in Exeter with two employees. Over the decades the business has grown to the point where it has multiple locations and about 90 employees.
Ellison Travel recently opened a London office at 4-1930 Hyde Park Road, and Doug Ellison said the plan is to eventually have 12 employees at the London office.
The opening of the London location coincides with Ellison’s purchase of the former Ruse Travel in London. Five employees from Ruse have made the move over to Ellison Travel, which specializes in group, vacation/cruises and corporate travel.
“We’re quite happy about opening in London,” Ellison said.
Another change for the business is the closure of its Goderich office. Ellison said he really didn’t want to close his Goderich location, but his manager there had to move to London for family reasons (she now joins the London office) and he was down to two agents at the Goderich office. While Goderich was doing well and growing, Ellison said he couldn’t find staff — he said one of his challenges is finding experienced agents to fill the positions he has available.
Despite the closure of the Goderich office, clients in that area can still be served as Ellison has agents who work out of their homes in Bayfield and Clinton. In fact, about 60 of Ellison’s employees have the ability to work from their homes at any time, including in Toronto, Ottawa, Grand Bend and Sarnia.
As for the move to London, Ellison said the business already had many clients in the city, and Hyde Park was chosen as a location because of the rapid growth that has taken place in that part of London in recent years.
Ellison said the new London office gives the business more possibilities for its vacation and group packages.
He said the business works hard to keep its employees’ training up-to-date because of how quickly the business changes. He said more customers come to Ellison Travel for advice because there is so much information on the Internet. Ellison also credited his “great staff” and noted the business has clients in every province in Canada as well as in the U.S.
In addition to its Exeter and London locations, Ellison Travel and Tours opened a Vancouver office about 12 years ago and has several home-based offices.