Property Spotlight: Riverwalk Properties
Audley CEO Ian Simkins tells me the British firm is planning to open the 7,000-square-foot office at 77 N. Washington St. during the first week of March. Audley has already hired 27 people for the office, he says, and expects to have as many as 40 there by the end of the year.
“The demand we can see already warrants an increase in more staff,” Simkins says.
This will be Audley’s first office in the United States, and it’s aimed at serving the entire country, at least at the start. (Simkins says it’s possible that demand could eventually lead to a second office on the West Coast.) Many of the agents are trained by going on trips for four to six weeks in the countries that they’ll specialize in.
Audley’s agents, or “country sales specialists,” work with travelers on a one-on-one basis before, during and after their trips to help plan their itineraries and make the trips go smoothly. The costs of these trips can start at around $2,000, but a typical trip costs about $10,000 for a couple, Simkins says. Audley, he says, gets its revenue from receiving a piece of the profits that hotels make on Audley customers.
The company, owned in part by private equity firm Equistone, reaped about $120 million in revenue last year and employs more than 200 people. Simkins says the firm is also opening an office in the London area to augment its main office near Oxford, England.
Simkins says there were several reasons that Audley picked Boston for its U.S. base of operation, such as the skilled, well-educated workforce and the relatively short six-hour flight to London. He also sees Boston as a vibrant, international city.
Audley decided to expand in the U.S. after noticing a number of American travelers were stumbling upon its website. Despite the fact that Audley is competing against a long line of self-service websites for travelers’ dollars, Simkins sees the information overload on the web as something that will drive potential customers to a company like Audley. “The Internet isn’t a threat,” Simkins says. “It’s enabling our business.”