Luxury tour operator Seasons has pledged to deliver a better service to agents despite having made 15 redundancies this month and scrapped its ski programme.

Sales director Jo Clarkson said the redundancies had been on the cards since the operator was bought by the Eden Group two years ago.

Three sales people lost their jobs because of the removal of the ski programme and the rest were back office roles.

Clarkson told Travel Weekly: “With two companies coming together the plan was always to become more streamlined and avoid doubling up resources by centralising elements of the business.

“Elements such as product and purchasing, accounting and finance, data, the bookings process and so on which have been combined, updated and made more efficient – vital for a healthy business.”

The operator launched a preferred agents scheme earlier in the year with a view to focusing attention on a small base of high quality partners.

“We want to ensure we drive high quality bookings to these partners and deliver a service suited to a niche, boutique operator. It is easy to chase after the more mass market but we want to keep our integrity and be the niche business affluent customers want.”

She added: “A model based on volume simply doesn’t deliver the level of service and client expectation deserving of a luxury tour operator.”

The operator has also overhauled its product, the most dramatic move being the removal of the ski programme.

“Ski has not performed well and it has become increasingly competitive and increasingly difficult to make commercially viable – the agents we have spoken to about it totally understand the decision.”

Clarkson said sales figures for the year to date had shown a drop in volume but a rise in the quality of business and average selling price that equated to a 30% year-on-year growth.

Clarkson added: “As the cliché goes small is beautiful and agents will continue to get through to reliable experts they know and trust – we are really looking forward to further strengthening our agent partnerships throughout 2012.”