Villa specialist Vintage Travel is hoping to work with more travel agents after a successful first 18 months dealing with the trade.

The company was formerly direct-sell and has been a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators for about 15 years.

Marketing manager Aileen Tyrrell said the operator had been persuaded to start selling through agents as part of the association’s closer ties scheme.

Tyrrell said the operator is now working closely with up to 30 AITO specialist travel agents and is looking to work with many more.

She added: “We used to think the knowledge and expertise we had of our villas was too detailed for us to be able to work with agents, but it’s quite the opposite.

“What we appreciate about agents is their knowledge and understanding of their clients’ requirements.”

Tyrrell said the operator offers commission of about 10% and is also extending training through workshops and conferences.

She added: “We can’t do much individual training because we haven’t got a sales team on the road, but we visit agents when we’re out and about.”

Tyrrell said Vintage Travel offers about 400 villas in its three 2008 programmes:Discover Spain, the Balearics and Portugal; Discover France, Italy and Croatia and Discover Greece.

Properties sleep between two and 18 people. The operator’s key selling point is the location of its villas, far from mass market resorts.

Around half of the operator’s sales are for accommodation only, although it also organises travel arrangements.