Independent agent sales ‘through the roof’ – 20 Apr 2007

Independent travel agents have reported strong sales this year as they switch away from traditional packages to tailor-made holidays.

Midconsort Elite general manager Paul Cowley said the consortium’s long haul and tailor-made bookings are “going through the roof” although he added the traditional package market is struggling.

Travel Counsellors chairman David Speakman added the homeworking agency’s sales are 22% ahead of last year. The growth is being driven by bookings being made on its dynamic packaging system Phenix, rather than on sales of big four packages.

Co-operative Travel Trading Group chief operating officer Mike Greenacre said the agency has performed well over the last four weeks, with sales particularly buoyed by 2008 brochure launches in the cruise market.

“The market is much healthier than it was in the early part of the year,” he said. “The retail shops are showing signs of returning to form.”

Majestic Travel owner Steven Freudmann said the North Wales-based agency is experiencing sales around 6% ahead of last year.

He said: “Last year was terrible, but we are now in one of the busiest periods we have experienced for some time.”

Suffolk-based Johnson Stevens Travel general manager Peter Cansick said he has seen a dramatic drop in the lead-in times for bookings, but business has been brisk in 2007.

“We are pleased with the year so far,” he said. “I took a £3,500 booking for a Caribbean holiday, which only took 20 minutes to complete. We will make a profit this year.”

However, Freudmann warned: “Independents need to show they are adding value. People do their own research on the web so an agent has to offer something the customer can’t find anywhere else.”

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