Business award for GCU student

28 March 2014

Stephen established Altogether Travel a year ago

Stephen established Altogether Travel a year ago

A GCU Business Studies student has been recognised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for his innovative approach to the travel industry – which involves offering tailored holidays to those who need round-the-clock care.

Stephen Chalmers, a first-year full-time BA (Hons) Business Studies student at the Glasgow School for Business and Society, saw his fledgling travel company named Best Small Business in Scotland at the regional FSB WorldPay Small Business Awards.

The company, Altogether Travel Ltd, has also been shortlisted to win the overall Business Innovation category at the national version of the awards.

The firm will now go forward to the UK final in London in May, with The Apprentice’s Karen Brady appearing as keynote speaker, and will be in with the chance of landing a top prize of almost £10,000 if successful.

Having previously spent 25 years in the care industry, Stephen established Altogether Travel just one year ago with the intention of providing tailored holidays for people who need care, ensuring customers enjoy the same level of attention during their holiday or short break as they would receive at home.

Stephen said he owes much of the business’s success to his GCU studies.

He said: “I left my previous position as an area manager within care sector to start up the company, then realised I didn't really have a business background behind me.

“I thought that GCU would give me the theory and practice to grow my company.
The course has been everything I thought it would and, so far, I have taken something from every subject and adapted it for my company, whether it be marketing, finance or business law.”

He added: “The service we offer specialises in accompanying older and frail adults as well as individuals with a learning disability or other disabilities to take a holiday either in Britain or abroad with one of our experienced travel assistants.

“Many social work departments are still funding traditional respite care, but we wanted to offer a more fulfilling holiday experience.

“My idea, therefore, was to combine a travel company with a care company. Changes in legislation mean that people who receive care will soon be in charge of their own care budget and will be able to purchase care services which meet their individual needs. So we anticipate that more individuals will want to spend some of their budget on a holiday rather than traditional respite care.”

The company retains the services of six assistants who all have a background and experience in the care industry. They are then matched with the customer and accompany them on holiday.

Stephen said: “The award is a real vindication that we’ve spotted a gap in the market and are building a sustainable business around it. We hope this recognition will help get our message out there and benefit other people receiving care who thought their days of taking a holiday were over.”