Advantage could soon form closer links with the Association of Independent Tour Operators after the consortium’s chief executive John McEwan spoke at the association’s conference.

McEwan addressed about 146 delegates attending the conference in Marrakesh last week, saying that some AITO operators have already signed deals with Advantage, while some of its members are ­already part of the AITO Specialist Travel Agents group.

As agents are increasingly being urged to chase niche and specialist sales, McEwan is hoping the two groups could both benefit from closer ties.

He said: “It is really just getting the remaining AITO members, who don’t deal with travel agents, to take a fresh look at it, especially as we’ve got a very effective distribution platform.

“We already work with some of them and do so very productively there are a lot of natural synergies there and we could work more closely.”

AITO chairman Derek Moore would not confirm if there were any concrete plans to create closer ties with travel agents, although he added it was a discussion worth having.

He added: “[With the current economic climate] we’ve got to think the unthinkable so the conference did discuss working with travel agents just as it did discuss looking at [selling] UK product.”

During his session, McEwan said commercial deals with operators generally last three years so agents can fully understand the product.

> See pages 8 and 10 for more on the AITO conference