Global Travel Group has launched a recession package to attract travel agents to its Independent Options division.

The group has scrapped its £90 monthly subscriptions for a minimum of three years for new and existing Independent Options’ members. There is no joining fee.

It is also offering to create and maintain non-bookable websites for members and produce over-branded editions of its consumer travel magazine.

General manager Dave Clayton said the package was intended to help members of Independent Options – who, unlike Global Travel Group agents, are members of ABTA – during a difficult trading environment. Independent Options’ members are covered by Global’s group ATOL.

He said: “This is a package of measures to ensure our ABTA agents are well-placed to get through the recession. We cannot stand back and do nothing in the worst recession since the war. Travel is getting labelled as something consumers can do without, but we think the travel market will come back next year.”

There will also be a large number of “heavily subsidised” places for both Independent Options and Global members – of which there are 650 combined – at the group’s annual conference, details of which have yet to be announced.

Clayton said there had already been “healthy interest” from rival agency consortia TTA Worldchoice and Advantage. “We have had a lot of enquiries from other consortia who have to decide whether to resign from their own consortia soon because they have to give three months’ notice before their subscriptions are due in January,” he said.

He denied the group was attempting to poach members of other consortia. Consortium TTA Worldchoice is also a member of the Triton Travel Group, alongside Global. In the past, Triton members have pledged not to poach each others’ members.

He said: “We are not on a massive recruitment drive but we are making clear that what is available to our members is available to the independent sector.”

He added: “There is very little difference now between what the consortia offer. The only thing we are not doing is demanding agents get their cheque book out. We will guarantee members will be no worse off. We have budgeted not to receive that money for the next three years.”

TTA Worldchoice managing director Simon Hargreaves was surprised by Global’s claims. “For every member that has left us we have gained five since Christmas. We have concentrated on the profitability of the independent agent, and agents believe our strategy will help them,” he said.

He added: “There has been no inter-consortia battle [for members].”

TTA Worldchoice members pay a subscription fee of £1,332 but some of this is refunded if members hit set targets.

Advantage membership is £1,150 per year plus VAT. Renewals come up in April and members must give three months’ notice to leave.