Bridge The World

Bridge the World Travel launch and early days…

Bridge the World are specialists in holidays to Australia, New Zealand and various parts of Asia. Located now in Leeds, their friendly and well travelled staff continue to offer a personalised booking service. But if we go back to when the company first started trading we sold ‘bucket-shop style’ flight tickets. Unlike today, airlines did not generally sell directly to the public because of IATA rules and regulations. Most airline prices were a lot higher too. I founded Bridge the World Travel Centre in 1988 with Brian Barton. We had both learned ‘the ropes of long haul travel’ at Trailfinders Travel Centre.

Trailfinders were (and still are) situated in London’s Earls Court road, or ‘Kangaroo Valley’ as it was famously known back then. The innovative company was established by an ex SAS man, Mike Gooley. The agency was a trailblazer for discounted worldwide flight tickets. Having handed in our notice at Trailfinders, we were asked to leave immediately! I found the perfect office, an old antique shop in Camden Town. It needed painting and phones had to be purchased along with desks and chairs but apart from that it was a relatively straight forward start-up.

Jerry Bridge tells us that “it was an incredibly challenging period and that if Trailfinders could do it, we could do it even better”. Coming up with the name of the company was challenging too… Bridge…erm…bridge…bridge and…world bridges…bridge of the world…bridge the world…yes ‘Bridge the World’ – that’s the one they thought sounded the best.

During the early days there was no internet, itineraries were hand written and they didn’t need to be members of ABTA let alone have an ATOL/CAA license. Bridge the World was established with relatively little capital – all that was needed was the odd well placed advert in the National Press and TNT, a free-be Australia focused magazine and the phones began ringing!

They began by specialising in discounted airfares to Australia and New Zealand and especially became well known for ‘Round the World’ itineraries.

 Initial booking projects & budgets…& yes we did go on to make a profit in the firts year!

Painting the new office in Ferdinand street with Brian and Andrew – I remember it as if it were yesterday

All hands on deck! Thank you to all those other friends who helped us..

The first business plan/information memorandem…note the ‘coming soon….!’

Surprise party 1st year – yes I took all the staff plus partners to Hilton’s ‘Trader Vics’ in Hyde Park….what a fantastic night…

Caroline & my accountant and very good friend Gary – ‘I’ve got more brains in my little finger than the rest of you put together..’ well something like that – yes of course you have!

Bridge the World at the end of year one – what a great team…

I would love to be able to say ‘you haven’t changed!’ Anyway, here we are, a year after the launch of Bridge the World…cool, calm & collected….but of course!

Brian, Bruce & Bridge….taking a break for an official photo shoot!

Dave & Cookie..fellow kiwi’s I met in Burma, who came to the UK, crashed on our floor and ended up working for me at various stages…great guys who I still see in NZ….nice T-shirt Cookie!

Florence’s christening – Bruce and I sleeping it off in Jude’s Norfolk garden, well we were working 7 days a week at the time!The lovely Tanya with baby Florence Bridge – our lucky mascot…born the same year we started up – 1989
…and so the post cards began flowing in…thank you to all our happy clients (no emails in those days)

Lizzie Green….Bridge the World’s first booker hands over the cheque – thank you so much!

Looking good after all that hard work and believe it or not we each had 2 phones on our desk we became ‘multi-tasking experts’ we were that busy…

Brian, Juliette & I enjoying a glass of bubbles to officially open the office for business – February 1989

Early days at Bridge the World and yes, the old antique shop was the perfect size, even though my mother (Mrs. Alma Bridge) commented ‘it’s a bit big isn’t it?!’

Brian and I agree to take on the likes of Trailfinders, we are confident we will succeed!

Yes, we did wear shirt and ties.  We wanted to look professional even though 99% of our business in the first 5 years was for discounted flights made over the phone.

 

No, although tempted, we did not open up on Koh Samui…these people (like others I could mention..) obviously liked our name!

The old red book, computerless early days when sales and passenger names and details were hand recorded!!

London/Delhi/Bangkok overland Singapore/Bali/Perth overland Sydney/Auckland/Tahiti/Los Angeles overland New York/London (Aeroflot, Garuda, AirNZ, Kuwait). Jerry taking a booking before the desks had even arrived!

Today, Bridge the World is owned by STA Travel – worldwide student travel specialists for flights, hotels, hostels & day tours. They are one of our recommended travel companies.

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