Former Travel 2 managing director Maria Whiteman has joined rival consolidator The Holiday Team on a consultancy basis to drive its trade sales.
Whiteman resigned from her role at Travel 2 in October during a wider restructure within parent company Stella Travel Services. Her move followed the departure of acting MD Stephen Rhodes. In November Stella Travel Services UK MD Andrew Laurie left the business.
The Holiday Team, based in Iver in Buckinghamshire, is owned by travel agency Southall Travel and was set up two years ago as a trade-only flight and hotel consolidator. Whiteman will work three days a week as a consultant director. Travel Weekly lifetime vice president Trevor Harding is a non-executive director for Southall Travel.
According to Whiteman, The Holiday Team has the scope to be one of the big players and could take advantage of the fact rival Travel 2 is focused on an internal restructure, while Gold Medal has just been acquired by Thomas Cook.
She said: “Travel 2 is going through a lot of change and Gold Medal has been bought by Thomas Cook, so some agents may not be so happy to work with them. We may get some benefit from this.”
Her priority will be to secure more distribution deals with travel agents to sell the company’s products.
She added: “We have the right technology, product and pricing, we just need the distribution. In terms of airline contracts we have got the same deals as the big players through being part of Southall Travel. We still have some work to do on hotel product in some areas. My key priority is to get the message across to as many agents as possible and get new contracts in place. I am going to use my contacts and I am hoping some people will proactively come to us.”
The Holiday Team currently has 300-400 agents signed up to work with it and has a “handful” of commercial contracts in place. Agents are given net rates, which they can then mark up accordingly.