Agents emerged stronger from XL collapse, say industry bosses

Travel agents are proving resilient in the economic downturn and have cause to be optimistic next year, leading trade figures have said.

Speaking at The Travel Convention session ‘Innovation Begins At Home’, ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said consumers were continuing to turn to travel agents to ensure they booked a fully protected holiday following the failure of XL Leisure Group.

He said: “There is a way through this and the failure of XL Leisure Group has reminded people financial protection is not as straightforward as they think. We as an industry have to continue to communicate with customers about when they are protected and how they are protected.”

Triton Travel Group chairman Steven Freudmann said the current situation was not all bad news for the trade. “I expected to hear doom and gloom, but I hear some optimism. Agents have emerged stronger and have shown themselves to be resilient. It comes back to the ability to manage one´s business.”

Stewart Baird, sales and operations director of Virgin Holidays, said the tour operation had enjoyed more bookings through agents following XL´s failure. “There is a disproportionate amount of our business coming through agents and we have not seen that for a few years,” he said.

More news from the ABTA Travel Convention 2008.

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