As we approach the general election on May 6, political representatives will be especially receptive to the views and interests of their constituents – including travel agents.

To highlight the political issues that affect the industry, Abta has launched its Travel Manifesto. Agents can play a crucial role in promoting the needs of the industry at a political level by discussing the issues in the manifesto with their local parliamentary candidates.

Abta has produced an Election Toolkit, which contains a step-by-step guide to contacting local candidates. The toolkit includes information on how to find contact details for your current MP as well as the candidates for all of the main political parties.

Follow the advice and instructions in the toolkit, which can be downloaded from the members area of Abta.com, to ensure that your meeting with prospective MPs makes the best impact possible.

 

Make the most of the run-up to the election

Local parliamentary candidates will be looking to meet and talk to local businesses in the run-up to the election, as they will want to find out about issues that affect their potential constituents as well as show how they can help you. Therefore now is a good time to invite them to visit your agency.

It’s worth inviting your current MP as well as any other candidates you think have a chance of being elected, although you should invite them on separate days. When you invite the candidates, follow the invitation letter template in the toolkit.

 

Clarify the points you want to get across

Once you’ve had your invitation accepted, it is important to make sure that new and current MPs clearly understand the needs of the travel and tourism sector when they visit.

Travel is the fifth-largest sector of the economy, an essential wealth creator and employer at a time when UK plc desperately needs successful businesses and fulfilling jobs.

Make sure you are familiar with our Travel Matters manifesto to ensure you know what the key policy areas are and what you would like them to do for you after the election, if they are successful.

Candidates will also want to talk to your staff, so before they visit, talk to them about issues that affect your business on a national level – those in the Abta manifesto – as well as those that affect your agency on a local level, such as business rates.

You will find the candidates will know about the importance of domestic tourism, but it is important to reiterate the jobs and economic value that outbound tourism generates.



 

Get publicity

A visit to your agency from a prospective parliamentary candidate is a great way to get publicity for your agency and the issues that affect it.

The local press will be very keen on political stories. In the toolkit we have drafted a sample press release inviting journalists to attend the candidates’ visits, which will give them a chance to gain wider support from the public as well as an opportunity to gain publicity for your business.

If members need any further help and guidance they should contact staff at the Abta secretariat.

 

On the day

With your potential MP and local press visiting your agency, first impressions are crucial. Make sure all staff are neatly presented and the agency looks its best.

When the candidate arrives, give them a tour of the agency and invite them to meet staff. You might also get regular customers coming in during the visit, so decide where would be good to sit and discuss the issues with the candidate.

Think about the local press – do you have a wall or backdrop with your logo on it that you could be photographed in front of? This might make a good photo, although the paper’s photographer will probably have a good idea of what they want to do.

 

Following up

You will now hopefully have a good relationship with your potential new MP and will be able to highlight future issues to them. Let Abta know about the visit so we can keep in contact with them if elected. Contact details are in the toolkit.

 


Interviews: The three major parties on tourism