The association continues to grow with an expanded annual conference, new training and agent-voted awards. Robin Searle reports

The Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers Conference has been expanded for 2019 with a new venue, new content and more time dedicated to educational business sessions and face-to-face networking.

The 2019 event will take place at The Point venue at Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground on September 18 and 19, with a welcome reception on the evening of September 18 followed by a full‑day conference and trade fair on September 19.

It will be supported by destination partner South African Tourism, technology partner Tigerbay and consumer media partners Global and Mail Metro Media, and will be run in partnership with Travel Weekly for the third year.

Once again, all agent delegates will be hosted by the association, with two nights’ accommodation provided on a shared basis. The event will culminate with a spectacular gala dinner and the Atas Awards.

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2018 event

The 2019 Atas Conference follows two successful conferences which attracted more than 350 delegates to Birmingham’s International Convention Centre.

The move to Manchester reflects the importance of the northwest for the travel trade, with The Point offering a purpose-built conference facility which will provide an inspiring backdrop for the conference sessions and events.

The theme for the 2019 conference is Experience the Moment, reflecting not only the experiential nature of touring and adventure holidays but also the opportunity for agents to seize the opportunity to embrace a sector which continues to grow with the trade at its core.

Atas chairman Paul Melinis, APT’s managing director for the UK and Europe, said: “The Atas Conference is our flagship event of the year, and our move to Manchester with a two-day event is a testament to the success of our first two conferences.

“Once again the conference will be packed with information and networking opportunities to make sure agents go away armed with the enthusiasm and knowledge to increase their touring and adventure sales.”

Atas was formed in April 2017 by a range of operators in association with Travel Weekly, and in just two years has expanded from 12 to 28 supplier members, with an additional 21 associate members and more than 1,000 registered agents.

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Atas chairman Paul Melinis and Wendy Wu

In addition to the conference, the association also runs four regional Atas Connects events, publishes regular trade communications in print and digital channels, and has a purpose-built website featuring online training, supplier and product information, brochure racks and a digital product search facility.

Lucy Huxley, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly Group and moderator of the conference, said: “The Atas Conference is now firmly established in the travel trade calendar, and plans are already under way to make sure the 2019 event is an even bigger and better showcase of a sector which continues to grow in importance for travel agents.”

To book your place, visit touringandadventure.com. Priority will be given to registered agent members of Atas, with places then allocated to bona fide travel agents on a first come, first served basis

Atas unveils online training for agents

Travel agent members of the Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers can now complete a series of online training modules to showcase their expertise in the sector.

Agents can also build on the centralised training modules with courses focused on individual supplier members.

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The training is designed to improve agents’ knowledge of the sector and provide practical tips for increasing touring and adventure sales.

An accreditation scheme is due to launch soon, with agents achieving different membership levels by completing modules and courses.

To register as an agent member of Atas and improve your knowledge of the sector, visit touringandadventure.com

Agents’ favourite touring and adventure suppliers to create Hotlist

Travel Weekly is to poll agents to produce a definitive list of the leading suppliers in the touring and adventure sector.

The Touring & Adventure: The Hotlist supplement will showcase suppliers in a range of categories and will build on the success of similar Travel Weekly publications for cruise lines and destinations.

The new publication will be supported by headline sponsor Mail Metro Media, which will also poll its readers on a series of consumer categories.

Katie McGonagle, Travel Weekly features and supplements editor, said: “The touring and adventure sector continues to grow in importance for the UK trade, and Travel Weekly has been proud to play a part in that growth through our involvement in the founding of Atas and our coverage in the weekly magazine and our Touring & Adventure supplements.

“Our Cool Cruises and Perfect Places publications are established showcases of the best cruise lines and destinations as voted by our agent readers, so it was a natural extension to use the format for the touring and adventure sector under our new Hotlist brand.”

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Immersive trade show

Kate Miello, head of travel for Mail Metro Media, said: “Mail Metro Media is delighted to support the 2019 Atas Conference and Touring & Adventure: The Hotlist.

“We reach two‑thirds of UK holidaymakers aged 50 and over who want to explore new destinations and experience diverse cultures, making this partnership the perfect way to engage and inspire this hugely important, affluent audience.”

Voting for Touring & Adventure: The Hotlist will open at the Atas Conference in September, with the winners announced at a special event hosted by Mail Metro Media later this year.

Conference sponsors

“South African Tourism is thrilled to be partnering with Atas for its third annual conference. The Experience the Moment theme resonates well with South Africa, which is home to many incredibleand experiential wildlife, nature and cultural tours. This year is set to be bigger and better with the new Manchester venue and we’re delighted to be a part of it. As a destination partner, we have so much to offer in terms of touring and adventure, to engage agents and keep them abreast of all that South Africa has to offer.”
Tolene van der Merwe, hub head for UK and Ireland, South African Tourism

Video highlights from 2018 event

“Tigerbay is delighted to continue to be the official technology partner of Atas for the third annual conference. As touring and adventure travel goes from strength to strength, it’s great to be able to meet with operators and agents alike, and discuss the unique technology solutions required by the sector.”
Carl Morgan, managing director, Tigerbay

“Global, the media and entertainment group, is proud to support Atas for the third year running. Global is home to some of the most‑loved UK brands including Heart, Capital, Smooth FM and Classic FM. Wherever and whenever people want to consume music and entertainment, Global is there at scale. Across broadcast, mobile, social and live we reach 32 million people every week.”
Nicola Bradley, head of travel, Global

To book your place, visit touringandadventure.com. Priority will be given to registered agent members of Atas, with places then allocated to bona fide travel agents on a first come, first served basis