All good companies have a story. Here at James Villas, we like to remember that we were once a person. We still want to draw on that ethos and remember where we came from. Which, in case you want to know, was the headspace of Jim Needham, with a big idea and spare bedroom-office.
Jim was the lucky owner of a property in Lanzarote. Renting out spare weeks to his colleagues, he was dubbed the unofficial travel agent of Fleet Street. Redundancy in the early ’80s gave him the opportunity to turn his hobby into a business and James Villa Holidays was officially born in 1985. We actually still have employee number one in the company! Since Jim retired, we’ve held on to that passion of a family-run business. The Wyndham Group – our owners since 2010 – recognise and nurture that spirit.
We last changed the way we looked in 2002, and boy has the world changed! There are now a whopping one billion websites around; back in 2002 there were only 38 million. In 2003 Thomas Cook launched JMC, remember them? What about Facebook? That was launched in 2004, while 2008 saw Airbnb pop up from nowhere. Uber appeared in 2009, revolutionising the taxi industry, and in 2010 Candy Crush became a phenomenon. What’s nice is that we have remained a constant – we are still here. We offer the same great service, even more beautiful villas, and what’s really amazing, our customers are growing with us.
That said, we have spent the last year looking at ourselves. Really, really looking in every nook and cranny, at every villa, our website, brochures – in fact everything you see from James. Why? For you guys. We want to make sure that James Villas reflects what you want, not what we think you want. So much has changed in the world, did we need to change too?
In early 2016 we set out to speak to as many of our customers as possible. Customers who have travelled with us every year for the last 20, customers who have stayed with us once, and people who are yet to be James customers… Research is quite a humbling experience; it endorses what you do, and at the same time tells you things you didn’t know. It became clear what was working for our customers and what we needed to fine tune.
First and foremost we discovered how nervy people become when booking a holiday. Not the researching part – that bit is fine. We all love looking through inspirational photos and friends’ holiday snaps, skim-reading National Geographic Traveller and making Pinterest boards of bucket list activities. That’s the part we all enjoy. The part where anxiety crept in is choosing accommodation. That’s right, that’s our job, and we need to make every part of your holiday stress free. It is, after all, what you look forward to all year.
So for 2017 we have launched our new villa collections. Don’t worry, we still have the same great properties, but we have designed the collections so it’s really easy to pick and compare what you want from your villa. They’re simply based on villa facilities, so whether you’re looking for a small, rustic bolthole as a base to go off and explore, or you’re looking for the ultimate in space and indulgence for a large family celebration, our new collections make it really easy for you to decide.
Over the last two years we have also been gathering website feedback. What do you like? What don’t you like? How can we make this better for you? You wanted bigger pictures, an easier way to book, more inspiration, the ability to look up multiple airports and much more. Now, after 18 months of development, we have launched the new James Villas website.
And the logo. Our precious identity. We knew we needed to look at this too. We invited groups of customers in for a discussion about how we look and what they thought about the business. James’ signature really rang true with everyone – the authenticity and personality of the business shone through, which is such a compliment to everyone who works here. However, it was unanimous that we looked older than our years and needed freshening up!
The gravity of changing something that’s already much-loved weighs down heavily though. We can’t tell you how many different fonts and colour blues the team here have seen over the last six months to get this just right.
We’ve had such an amazing journey throughout 2016, delving into the brand and what we needed to tweak and change, all based on customer feedback. Writing this feels a little bit like showing off our baby’s photos! We hope you’ll agree that the new look is a good one, and we’re ready and waiting to whisk you away on another James Villa holiday very soon, or welcome you to your first.
Find out more about the James Villas journey, or perhaps start your own on a 2017 villa holiday.