A US specialist has attributed a 100% increase in turnover during one of the industry’s toughest trading climates to selling exclusively through the trade.
USAirtours doubled its turnover to more than £25.5 million in the financial year ending September 2010 and has seen a 9% year-on-year increase in sales this year to date.
Chief executive and founder Guy Novik claimed agents were switching to sell its products “by the hundred” because it has no direct sales arm.
The operator sends 30,000 customers to the US each year and is actively sold through about half of the UK’s independent agents after it opted to sell only via the trade six years ago.
Novik said agents were now realising the risks of becoming mini operators and wanted to work with trusted distribution partners.
He said: “We have got agents switching to us by the hundred. Agents are more loyal to operators who don’t steal their business. We have no intention of changing that and will be happy if we end the year 9% up.”
Novik said the US was enjoying a resurgence despite a drop-off in the Florida family market. Its Florida sales are down 12% but have been made up by city-break and West Coast fly-drive sales to couples.
The operator has halved deposits in response to market conditions and is budgeting for “modest growth” in 2012 by focusing on specialist and tailor-made cruise and stay holidays.
“We see this as an opportunity to sell cruises as part of a tailor-made itinerary as agents get commission on the whole holiday,” added Novik.
Only 10 years ago the company was on the brink of collapse after the September 11 attacks. Passenger numbers fell from 80,000 to 15,000. “It was the company’s biggest challenge,” admitted Novik.
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