Travel agency consortium Advantage unveiled an updated brand this week as it prepares to help its members take on the web in its turn-of-year sales campaign.

Gone is the name Advantage Travel Centres, replaced by The Advantage Travel Partnership, and any attempts to push the brand to consumers direct have been shelved.

Addressing business partners at this week’s first corporate and leisure combined business partner briefing on Tuesday, managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said said Advantage was evolving.

She said Advantage had gone through a thorough reappraisal of everything it does since she took over four months ago and has made some significant changes internally.

“We are a strong business-to-business brand and among our membership we have very strong business-to-consumer brands in their marketplaces.

“A lot of agents do not want to use the Advantage brand. We’ve looked at how we best describe ourselves. We felt a membership organisation just sells us short.

“We are a centre of excellence for the independent travel sector. This is evolution, not revolution; how we describe our present and future, how we evolve as an organisation.”

She added: “We believe this is a significant step forward as The Advantage Travel Partnership better describes the special relationship we have with our members and more clearly articulates to the customer, whether leisure holidaymaker or corporate traveller, the enhanced value we offer to the relationship they have with their Advantage member. 

“We are truly excited about the emergence of this new and significantly more meaningful brand identity.”

Delegates were brought up to date with a raft of new initiatives at Advantage, including front line and branch manager training workshops, new technology and a central marketing team.

In January Advantage will also launch a new business partners accreditation scheme that will rate them ‘commended’, ‘highly commended’ or unrated based on their direct sales policies and general approach to the trade.

This is based on a survey being conducted among its suppliers and Advantage will also look to introduce service levels agreements to help forge more mutually beneficial partnerships.

Mark Rowe, head of marketing, revealed the campaigns that agents will be encouraged to use online and in-store for New Year campaigns.

Straplines include: “It’s easier to click with a person than a mouse” and “Why not speak to the real TripAdvisor to plan your holiday”.

Rowe said: “We want to overcome this misperception that it’s more expensive to book through an agent.”