Gallery: Aito Kickstart

Aito Agents is to hold its first combined fam trip and conference in Malta in June.

The agent arm of The Specialist Travel Association (Aito) revealed news of its first ‘famference’ – a new term coined for the event – at Aito’s Kickstart, its January domestic conference held at the weekend and previously known as Starfest.

It is hoped the event, from June 12 to 14, will attract around 80 agents and operator members of the association, plus affiliate members. Previously, Aito held an annual overseas conference in mid-June.

It will include sight-seeing excursions and activities based around three locations in Malta plus networking opportunities and team building exercises designed to strengthen relationships between Aito’s agents, operators and business partners. There will not be any speaker sessions.

Aito Agents chairman Gemma Antrobus said: “Last year at conference we shared lots of ideas and one thing we kept hearing was that agents used to love getting together for the June overseas conference.


“Instead of trying to bring the June conference back, we thought about doing some sort of gathering in an Aito destination where half the time is spent networking and half the time is about discovering the destination. I’d love to get around 80 delegates along.”

The cost for delegates will be subsidised by event partner Malta Tourism Authority, which is hosting the event, and Aito.

Antrobus said the announcement about the first ‘famference’, made by the Malta Tourism Authority’s UK and Ireland director Tolene Van Der Merwe, came during its “best” January conference to date. It was attended by around 150 agents and operators.

She said: “There was just so much positivity and togetherness this year and a really good vibe about 2020. Even at our marketplace, suppliers seemed to have stepped up their game with more products and services for agents.”

Also revealed at the conference was that 58% more agents have been recognised in the Aito Excellence Programme, now in its third year. This awards agents bronze, silver, gold and platinum accolades based on their engagement with the association.

Only two agencies, Haslemere Travel and RB Collection, achieved gold status, but more agents were awarded bronze, said Antrobus, owner of Haslemere Travel. No agency has yet won platinum status.

“More agents are recognising the importance and benefits of Aito,” she said.

The conference included workshops on selling to the Silver Traveller, which was backed up by a presentation on the latest Aito Insights survey, highlighting opportunities for agents to sell more to the 55-plus age group.

The Annual All Stars and Excellence Programme Awards Ceremony, which was also held at the event, gave out ten awards.


The All Star National Winner was Beaver Travel (pictured), based on its sales through Aito operators in 2019; with Worldwide Escapes taking the All Star Most Improved award; Peakes Travel Elite scooping the All Star Travel Agent award and Safari Consultants winning All Star Tour Operator.

The All Star Travel Agent Shining Star award went to Sandra Mutter, of Andara Travel and the All Star Tour Operator Shining Star award was won by Gareth Hulmston at Lusso.

The other winners were: Holiday Extras (All Star Business Affiliate); Journeys A La Carte (All Star Central England & The East); Worldwide Escapes (All Star North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland); and Beaver Travel (All Star South of England).

The regional and national awards are based on sales through Aito operators while the others are voted for by Aito agents and operators which sell through the trade.

GalleryAito Kickstart