TUI Travel is nearly doubling its travel agency sales team as the product it sells becomes increasingly specialist.

Distribution director Nick Longman said the team currently consists of five members of staff and it is hoped as many as four more members of the team can be recruited in time for the new year.

The new sales staff will then support and train both in-house and third-party travel agents as the operator offers increasingly diverse product such as the Island Cruises brand, which TUI has recently taken control of one, bringing a new ship into the company’s fleet.

Longman said: “I still believe you can use online (resources) but I believe there’s a value in attending roadshows and providing agents with support when they need it.

“If you move into more exclusive and niche products then there is more of a need to explain them. There’s nothing like getting 800 managers in a room and telling them all about the product and how to sell it.”

Longman said the new staff members would be split evenly between those dealing with Thomson and First Choice agents and those dealing with independents. He added the tour operator’s current commissions of 7% and 10% are also set to remain unchanged for the time being.