Mature solo travel firm upgraded to first-class offices with grant support

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One Traveller
Small Grant Scheme
Grants of £1,000 to £25,000 available

Holiday operator One Traveller in Swaffham took charge amidst the pandemic in 2020 by organising UK holidays rather than overseas, diversifying its offering and preparing for growth.

The family-run business takes pride in its strong focus on customer service and has been voted ‘Best Singles Holiday Operator’ at the British Travel Awards seven years in a row. Selling directly to its guests, One Traveller enjoyed year-on-year growth which was driven by the number of repeat loyal guests.

Stepping into a niche market, Ian and Emma Darkin set up the holiday company in 2007 and for the first five years Ian organised all the holidays himself, with Emma running the office along with plenty of help from their parents. Now, it has over 25 employees and 25 Tour Managers who escort every holiday. It is the UK’s only tour operator solely dedicated to providing escorted holidays for mature solo travellers.

Outgrowing its office, One Traveller looked for larger premises in the local area. The company found Roman House in Swaffham which needed to be customised to create a good environment for the team and attract new colleagues.

During the pandemic, and against the odds, One Traveller adapted its holidays and upgraded its new office ready for expansion with an £11,000 grant through New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Small Grant Scheme.

Commenting on the refurbishment, Ian says: “Due to the pandemic, it was stop and start as the work was being completed throughout 2020 and we finally moved in properly in April 2021, after the third lockdown. The travel industry obviously suffered long and hard but now it is full steam ahead.”

The office was originally open-plan over two levels. The upper level has been totally transformed by adding three large and spacious offices and a kitchenette. One Traveller is now once again in a position where growth is happening, and with that means new job opportunities. “The grant has helped us achieve our goal of enhancing the work environment for the team and provided departments the privacy that they now enjoy,” says Ian.

Ian is keen to keep expanding the company’s portfolio of holidays, which now includes destinations such as Japan, South Africa and Costa Rica, as well as holidays by train and sole charter river cruises.

Looking back on the Small Grant Scheme application process, Ian says New Anglia Growth Hub’s business advisers provided step-by-step guidance on what information was needed. Gathering information can take time, but he adds: “It’s all worthwhile because it will help expand or improve your business in some way.”

Grants normally cover up to 40% of your total project costs. To find out more about the Small Grant Scheme visit

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