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WTM: Beware ‘one-hit wonder’ operators, says Aito agents chief

There are too many suppliers looking to work with the trade in some sectors, Aito’s specialist travel agent chairman has warned.

Oliver Broad, director of Robert Broad Travel, advised agents to beware of ‘one-hit wonders’ bearing cash, and to build lasting relationships with trusted suppliers.

Using the luxury sector as an example he said there was a plethora of operators “wooing travel agents from every angle”.

He said being in Aito helped agents to cut through the clutter because there is a limited number of operators in the association.

He warned: “Be aware of one hit wonders. To me that is those who flash the cash before I know their name and before they really know what I do.”

Gemma Antrobus, managing director of Aito member Haslemere Travel, said her agency is using fewer operators than ever before, all of them independent.

“I would never send one of my customers away on holiday with an operator I was not totally comfortable with,” she said.

Haslemere ditched its brochure racks in 2005, said Antrobus, something she said had paid off 10 times over as its customers now see it as an expert travel consultancy.

“We take our independent status very seriously,” said Antrobus who admitted she considered leaving Aito when she first joined Haslemere but was quickly persuaded of its worth.

Broad said: “I firmly believe there is always going to be a need for consumers to know the truth. They want honest opinion and advice.

“We have seen the independent sector reduce in size but those that have survived are innovating and putting the effort in to survive.”

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