Travel Weekly news editor Juliet DennisOkay, voting for Abta board members may not be as sexy as Big Brother. But it matters more: this is your chance to vote for a candidate to represent your business.

And this time, things have changed. No longer is there space for nine travel agents on the board – which is why the decision to vote for a retailer is more critical than ever.

In the ‘up to £20 million’ category, pitted against each other are independent agents with very different views – from Majestic Travel’s Steven Freudmann, who has supported a slimline Abta board, to Daniele Broccoli, who was less than happy about the changes but is now determined to fight for the small independent agency.

In the ‘over £20 million’ category, candidates couldn’t be more different. Lastminute’s John Bevan is flying the flag for online retailers, Mike Greenacre represents United Co-op, which is merging with Travelcare, while Derek Jones has hundreds of Thomson shops under his helm.

With this week’s news that TUI has approval from the European Commission to merge with First Choice, Jones could soon represent a much larger multiple, especially if, as some observers predict, many Thomson and First Choice agencies stay open in the merged company.

Meanwhile, in the ‘over £50 million’ category for principals there is a chance to choose an independent operator such as Cosmos over a multiple (MyTravel and First Choice).

It’s hard to imagine one of the big four not being represented on the elected section of the new board, but it’s possible. Just as it is possible to have an online retailer rather than a high-street agency fighting your corner.

The choice is yours. Make sure you cast your vote once you have read what each has to say in Travel Weekly over the next two weeks.