Agents at The Advantage Conference 2017 were told the industry can be a leader in technology and in doing so give agents more time to add value with the personal touch.

Themed Man and Machine, the three-day conference at Club Med’s Opio en Provence resort in the south of France threw Advantage members and suppliers into the world of technology and cast an eye across other industries to see how travel compares.

Former The Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury set the tone on the opening night and introduced headline speaker Sir Chris Hoy on Sunday night to close the event.

Sir Chris’ inspirational talk was aimed at inspiring travel agents to set targets and dream big to achieve business or personal goals.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director of The Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “We’ve got leisure agents thinking about how they are selling and how they can use channels like social media.

“Technology is really exciting for travel, because we are selling dreams. Agents have the perfect product to really engage with their customers and think outside the box.

“We hope they go away inspired to tap into the amazing platforms that are out there, whether it’s blogs, pictures or videos and come up with ideas that help them stand out from the crowd.

“Technology is about how we use it. Think about technology but don’t forget the people. Humans are the biggest asset we have and we should never underestimate that.”

Advantage chairman Steve Esom added: “Ultimately it’s about people, the decisions they make and how to make sure they’re compelling and how to drive more customers to their businesses.

“To do that they must embrace the best technology has to offer. By combining the best technology with the best people, they will win.”

The conference also included break-out sessions in the leisure industry including talks from Paddy Power’s chief mischief officer Feilim Mc An Iomaire, Deloitte’s Alistair Pritchard and Ben Sauer, a strategist at Clearleft.

Delegates also had the chance to network with supplier partners of Advantage with a series of speed-dating events while special guests were invited to an exclusive Travel Weekly lunch.