Former Jet2holidays trade sales manager Craig Davidson has launched a new venture offering flexible field sales and marketing to travel firms looking to boost trade awareness.

Managing director Davidson said the new company, FlexiReps, would target businesses which had been hit by the Covid-19 crisis and may have had to make redundancies among trade-facing teams.

ITE travel agent Kelly Freeth will be the company’s office manager, while Freeth’s husband Andy, former chief executive of If Only and managing director of dnata UK, will support as a non-executive director.

Davidson left Jet2holidays in July after four years as general manager of trade sales. He said the idea for the new venture had been sparked by seeing the impact of the coronavirus crisis on travel firms.

“Like many sectors, the travel industry has been hard-hit by Covid-19 and we wanted to offer brands a flexible field sales solution for product launches, incentive awareness and much more,” he said.

“Many brands impacted in recent months will have let their field sales teams go, and over the coming weeks and months, they may need a short burst of agent activity to create a buzz, launch a brochure or get the trade behind a campaign or incentive.

“Paying teams all year is tough to justify while the market slowly recovers but brands will still need a presence and awareness.”

Davidson said FlexiReps would welcome approaches from field sales representatives who had been made redundant, and would have three key purposes.

“We want to help brands raise awareness with cost-effective solutions, keep travel industry colleagues busy and support industry-recognised charities,” he said.

In the first 24 months, FlexiReps has pledged to give 10% of all profits to Abta Lifeline. It will select a new trade charity to support each year.

Davidson added: “We can work with tourist boards, hotel groups, cruise companies, tour operators and airlines to generate noise about product launches, incentives, brochure launches or even simply to instil confidence in their new Covid-19 protocols. Customer confidence in travelling is key and travel agents are the best-placed to offer consumers advice.”

Kelly Freeth, who has 20 years’ experience as an agent, said: “I have met hundreds of sales reps over the years and they really add value to businesses by training agents and raising awareness. I completely understand why brands have had to cut back and from a travel agent’s perspective it’s really sad to see, but with our flexible solution we can keep agents trained, informed and connected to brands with short-burst activity.”

Andy Freeth added: “Craig and Kelly have hugely complementary skills to make this work. They have an operator and agent view and lots of experience to deliver effective and impactful activity. I look forward to helping Craig and Kelly with FlexiReps. I am particularly drawn to this as it can help generate income for many industry colleagues during a tough period and I’m a huge fan of the work Abta Lifeline does too.”