Gold Medal is launching a three-pronged marketing campaign designed to focus sales through the travel trade this January.

Head of travel industry sales Lee Marshall said the operator has deliberately launched its 2009 programme later than other tour operators in order to ensure its product range is fresh in travel agents’ minds come the peaks selling period.

He said the other two strands of the £250,000 marketing programme will reinforce the recent “We Love It When You Call” campaign highlighting the operator’s free phone numbers for travel agents while Gold Medal will also work closely with consortia and agencies to drive trade sales.

Marshall said: “As a tour operator we’ve got to show our support for travel agents when business is good and when the market is difficult, that’s when we’ve got to spend more money on the agents without scrimping.

“It would have been very easy for us to pull back on our spend but it is not the right position for us, we want to be side by side with the agents.”

With this in mind, the operator is working with Advantage, Worldchoice TTA, Hays Travel, Future Travel and The Co-operative Travel group and is planning on having its sales team visit 1,000 travel agencies in the new year while it hopes to get its branding and product in 2,000 shops.

While January is being used to raise the tour operator’s profile to the trade and public, February will see more late offers released to the trade and in March there will be regional press and radio advertising. n

Head of marketing Dave Raywood said Gold Medal will also focus on value and price-driven offers as opposed to pushing the message of financial protection which its new owner Thomas Cook is pushing.

He added: “People want to see it (financial protection) and it is a reassurance but it is not going to make consumers choose you, they’re looking for the product first.”

Marshall added: “We’re applying a lot of pressure on our suppliers, we’ve lent on our partners – the airlines and hotels – very heavily to make sure we’ve got strong pricing and can stimulate the market.”