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‘Dial-a-rep’ to debut in Med resorts

AN independent telephone rep service across the
Mediterranean has been launched to support dynamically packaged
holidays sold through the trade.

The move comes as an increasing number of agents abandon
conventional packages in favour of putting holidays together
themselves.

It follows reports of a 30% drop in attendance at welcome meetings
over the past five years. Operators such as Thomson Holidays have
already scrapped some rep services.

The 24-hour resort service goes live in the Canary Islands via a
Tenerife call centre from March and will launch in Spain, Greece,
Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and the US this summer.

The service, bookable online at destinationcare.com, will be sold
as an ‘insurance top-up’ to the trade at £3 per
adult and free for children, although a £2 mark-up is
recommended.

Shareholders Holiday Taxis and Holiday Brokers are signing up
consortia agents and will approach multiples.

Destination Care managing director Paul Stanyer, also Holiday Taxis
MD, said: “There is still value in the rep but not in its
current format. The turnout at welcome meetings is dwindling. Five
years ago at Inspirations we had 70% of customers – that has
fallen 30% for many operators because holidaymakers now don’t
need their hands held.”

But he said independent holidaymakers still want the reassurance of
a support service and to book excursions. Other services include
medical assistance, restaurant recommendations and help with flying
home early or changing hotels.
Freephone numbers will be offered where possible while some resorts
will have a shop. Excursions can be booked by customers before or
during the holiday.

Stanyer, who believes the company will break even in its first
year, said: “It’s the last missing element of the
dynamically packaged holiday. Agents are worried because when
something goes wrong customers ring the agent.”

He claimed Destination Care will undercut rival excursion prices by
making less margin than traditional operators. “Margins on
excursions can be up to 50%,” he added.

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