TEN years in business is being marked by a York travel company with an 8,000 mile round trip to a tropical island for its 32 staff.

The entire workforce from The Group Company, based in Low Ousegate, is jetting off on Friday morning for a five-star, three-night all inclusive break in Barbados, courtesy of the company and its founder Helen Bilton.

The trip marks the tenth anniversary for the business; a wholesale travel company which has enjoyed 50 per cent year on year growth since it was founded on February 1, 2006.

Starting in Boston Spa, with a single, small office for Mrs Bilton, The Group Company later moved to Wetherby, before relocating to Toft Green in York, where it had its base until three years ago.

Teams work to negotiate deals with hotels around the world, selling them on to a customer base of around 500 different global holiday operators.

Specialising in city breaks the firm predominantly sold in Europe, but launched its first world wide collection six months ago.

Mrs Bilton said: "I thought about doing a big party to celebrate the tenth anniversary with suppliers and customers, but then I thought the people that really deserve a treat are the people that work hard day, day out for the business.

"I decided about six months ago to go to Barbados. We have a monthly staff meeting, and a few months ago I asked for ideas to celebrate the tenth anniversary.

"Someone suggested hiring out Flamingo Land so I pretended that's what we were going to do. At the next meeting a I told them Flamingo Land was closed that day, so we're going to Barbados instead.

"They couldn't believe it, I think they thought I was joking."

Mrs Bilton said it is "massively important" to her to reward her staff, linking customer satisfaction as a service business to staff satisfaction.

She said: "We are predominantly a service business, so it's all about giving good service to our customers, and the only way to do that is to ensure people are happy in their job.

"Everyone works so hard and I'm very grateful for that, so I'm delighted to be able to reward them in this way."

Staff will be staying at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Bridgetown, with planned activities including a catamaran trip, go karting, an island safari, paddle boarding and beach dining.

On their return the teams are tasked with continued the company's record of 50 per cent year on year growth to meets Mrs Bilton's ambition of becoming the biggest wholesale tour operator in the country, with early plans to open satellite offices in London and the US.