Association of Independent Tour Operators Specialist Travel Agents are gearing up for a week of promotions and events to help strengthen their relationships with customers.

The first AITO Week, which kicks off on October 6, will see agents teaming up with AITO tour operators to host lunches, competitions and special promotions.

Haslemere Travel in Surrey has set up a special lounge for one-to-one sessions between clients, tour operators and agency staff.

Managing director Andrew Brownrigg said: “This will be a good chance for customers to meet the operators and benefit from their specialist knowledge. The economic climate adds an extra challenge for everyone and we hope to attract new clients through this event.”

Kitts Travel in Pinner, Middlesex has invited 48 potential new clients to take part in a tennis tournament, with the chance of winning a week’s holiday at Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus.

Managing director Andy Rowden said: “This week has a lot of potential and I hope other agents will get behind it. AITO agents need to show that they can look after customers, which is important in the current climate.”

AITO specialist travelagents’ chairman Barry Moxley said the event was not a reaction to a downturn in holiday bookings. He said: “This is to offer our clients the chance to meet specialist holiday companies for themselves. Members will also take the opportunity to explain the financial protection benefits of booking with an agent.

“One of the best added value benefits in this climate is financial protection and peace of mind.”

The start of the week coincides with the launch of AITO Wildlife Portfolio Selection, the first in a series of brochures to be launched by AITO Specialist Travel Agents. The brochure features organised tours and tailor–made itineraries.