Hays Independence Group is enjoying a “spike” in interest from potential new members, according to new national sales manager Chris Oakes.


Oakes said uncertainty in the sector, rather than any proactive recruitment campaign, had led to an increase in the number of travel companies approaching the group.


Recent uncertainty includes speculation in recent months over the future of Freedom Travel Group, which was understood to be up for sale, although Thomas Cook stated at the end of May it was “fully committed” to the business.


Oakes said the Independence Group, which currently has 150 members, would continue to grow by cherry-picking new members based on quality rather than quantity.


Oakes, who started last month, said: “We have been approached by those who want to work with us as opposed to us going out with a fishing line; it’s all about quality for us.


“We are definitely seeing a spike in interest in people looking to move to the Independence Group.


“There are people that are calling around [the consortia] and there is a bit of uncertainty. They want the best rates and they want innovation.”


The group’s membership ranges from traditional retail travel agents to online agents, call centres and tour operators, added Oakes.


Members are covered by its Abta and Atol bonds and it provides technology, inhouse training, access to the inhouse Hays tour operation, and covers supplier payments. There are no annual or joining fees.