Former If Only head of sales Neil Sealy has joined specialist tour operator Exsus Travel to spearhead its launch to the trade.
Sealy left If Only on Friday last week and started in the new role of head of trade sales today at the luxury, tailormade specialist which has been mostly direct-sell until now and is virtually unknown in the trade.
He will be embarking on a major trade push to raise awareness of the 20-year-old London-based brand as it looks to gain a foothold in the travel agent luxury sector.
Sealy said his priority would be to get commercial agreements in place with all the agency consortia while meeting agents face-to-face to start training them on Exsus’ product range, particularly agents which focus on the luxury market.
He stressed there was “very little overlap” with his former business If Only.
He said: “Exsus currently operates in 87 countries and it has been operating for 20 years but has never worked with agents properly, it’s been very ad hoc and the trade has never been a major focus until now. That’s my job to get the business in and I’m starting from scratch.
“Over the last couple of years they have bolstered their head office team and have got new systems in place. The reservations team are very knowledgeable and they are ready to engage now with the trade.”
Sealy said Exsus offered “competitive commissions” and added it would look to develop an agent group on Facebook and an agent area on its website in future as well as fam trips to get agents out to experience its product worldwide.
He said there was no set target for trade sales but added: “I have my own targets but basically it is to get as much agent business as possible in the first year. This is a really niche business with a turnover of under £5 million but they are geared up for agent enquiries.”
Sealy was at If Only for six years and was also business development manager for the south-east for the operator. Agent sales at If Only from the south-east region doubled in the time he was there, he said.
He added: “Hopefully agents trust me and I am confident they will be impressed by the product. Exsus is a more tailormade offering [than If Only] and there is very little crossover on product.
“Exsus is very good at dealing with unusual requests that are not in the brochure and making things happen for clients.”