Great Rail Journeys is to sell train holidays through the trade for the first time in its history.
The operator is targeting independent agents and aims to strike joint marketing deals with the trade.
The move follows the development of brands Treyn Holidays and Rail Select in its portfolio in addition to existing premium brand Great Rail Journeys.
The trade focus will be on Treyn Holidays – which offers escorted standard-class rail holidays in Europe packaged with three-star hotels – and Rail Select, which provides independent tailor-made train holidays. It has produced a trade brochure for Treyn.
The operator will pay 10% commission on Treyn and Rail Select and 7.5% on GRJ.
Managing director Steve Kimber, former boss of MyTravel-owned Cresta Holidays, said: “Until now we didn’t have the systems in place to deal with agents and pay commissions.”
Despite the economic downturn, Kimber is convinced agents will have customers interested in rail travel and added the move would capitalise on disillusionment with air travel. “Rail is one of the few sectors that will grow next year,” he said.
He added agents currently packaging up rail holidays themselves would be lucky to earn more than 5% commission from train companies.
Treyn Holidays, bookings for which average £650 per passenger, has turned over £2 million since its January launch. It is aimed at customers at the ‘upper end’ of the coach market in the 50-plus age bracket.
Kimber reassured agents the operator would not “steal” customers for its direct database but said agents needed to recognise it would have to ask for advance passenger information from January for cross-border rail security in Europe.