Travel agencies battle to cut costs to survive the winter

Travel agencies are urgently reviewing their business models to survive the winter until summer 2021 balances are due.

As school summer holidays come to an end, agents say they will effectively be operating “on thin air” until March, when they receive balance payments for May bookings.

Some have reduced branch opening hours while others are considering homeworking or renegotiating shop rents.

MoreTailor Made Travel to close 15 stores in autumn hibernation plans

Advantage Travel Partnership head of business development David Moon said: “Some members are looking at a different business model, like homeworking, to strip costs out and some are reducing their working weeks.

“Staff are working with owners to find ways through winter. They want their businesses to survive and are willing to take some pain.

“The reality is that it’s about cash. Forward business is pretty good for next year but for a lot of businesses it’s a case of ‘am I going to be able to hang in there to realise that income?’”

South Wales miniple Tailor Made Travel is putting 15 of its 20 stores into “hibernation” this autumn.

Other miniples said they would keep shops open, but Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan admitted: “It’s played out worse than I thought. It’s going to be survival of the fittest.

“We are in a strong position financially but this will test us. It’s just about how much money you have in the bank. We’ve got to survive on pretty much thin air until March.”

Fred Olsen Travel moved to a five-day week earlier this month, with branches shut on Saturday. Head of commercial Paul Hardwick said: “We were seeing very limited business that day so have opted to close temporarily to reduce costs and maximise the furlough scheme.

November and December will be a big headache if there’s no further government support.”
Althams Travel, which has 32 branches in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and a small homeworking team, will consider reduced staff hours for November and December if there is no further government assistance.

Managing director Sandra McAllister said: “We intend to keep every branch open; some may close on one quiet midweek day.”

Premier Travel, which has 24 branches, is operating with minimum staff numbers, with some working reduced days. “We are trying to renegotiate rents if and where we can,” said director Paul Waters.

More:  Tailor Made Travel to close 15 stores in autumn hibernation plans


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