Agents on the Spot: Turkey

Turkey specialist Tapestry Holidays ran two educationals in Turkey last year, taking 45 agents to visit the key resorts and accommodation featured in its programme. One group of 20 retailers went for a week and spent two nights in Turunc Bay, one night in Gocek, two nights in Akyaka and two nights in Calcun. We asked three for their impressions before and after the trip.

Before: We sell a lot of holidays to Turkey – several thousand a year – but we deal primarily with the mass-market tour operators. The majority of our clients go to the big, busier resorts in Turkey but we recognised that there is a section of the market that wants quieter, less commercial resorts of the kind that Tapestry features. I had been to the bigger resorts before but hadn’t seen much of the smaller places. Many clients worry that Turkey is dirty and rather basic. I knew that was not true and that it was fantastic value for money.

After: The thing that impressed me most was the huge number of classical sites that there are in Turkey. It is not just about great beaches – Turkey seems to have been of great strategic importance to just about every great civilisation and there really is a lot to see. The resorts that Tapestry features will really suit a quite different type of client to the one we have mostly sold to. We are already recommending it to clients who want something peaceful and quiet, somewhere really authentic. We wouldn’t send hen or stag parties to these places but some of the tiny village resorts make a great alternative to the Greek islands or even Italian resorts such as Corsica.

Matthew Flint, Sales Director, Direct Line Holidays, Crystal Palace, Age: 33

Before: I have travelled a lot and I have lived abroad but I had never been to Turkey. My impressions of the place had all been gleaned from TV holiday shows and I imagined that the resorts would be very lively, pretty tacky and basically naff. I was previously an air stewardess and all the people flying to Turkey seemed to be ‘shell-suit families’ and lager louts. I had sold holidays to Turkey but found people were often worried they would get ill, not be able to communicate well with the people and that the accommodation would be very basic. I didn’t really think it would be my kind of place.

After: I was totally gobsmacked. I was absolutely amazed at the wonderful rustic landscapes and the incredible smell of the place. I’m not one for shops and a busy nightlife – I like to escape, and the resorts we visited are perfect for that. It was a bit like stepping back in time. Everyone was very friendly and helpful but natural. Turkey is the kind of place that says take me as I am – and I’m lovely! The accommodation was simple but extremely clean and comfortable, and the food was fabulous. Some clients are put off Turkey because they see it in the big operators’ brochures and don’t want that kind of holiday. Now, I show them the Tapestry resorts and tell them Turkey is now one of my favourite places.

Sally Pugh, Sales Consultant, Wessex World Travel, Dorset, Age: 30

Before: I had not been to Turkey before but we sell at least one holiday a day there so I was familiar with the kind of product available and knew it was very popular. Our clients do like the quieter, less developed resorts such as those offered by Tapestry and I knew Turkey must have something going for it because it generated a lot of repeat business. I knew it was mountainous inland but imagined the coastal areas would be pretty flat. I had seen from the brochures that it was a well priced destination and since we rarely got any complaints I guessed that it must be pretty good quality too.

After: First impressions were good. I was surprised to see how the mountains came right up to the coastline and this really gives the coastal villages a lot of character and interest. The accommodation was good and the people were fabulous – like the Greeks but even friendlier. I feel much more able to voice an opinion on each of the resorts now and can sell them all with much more confidence. I particularly liked the fact that you can easily wander into the back streets of the little villages and become quickly involved in the traditional village life. Turkey is very popular and I don’t have any problems selling it at all now.

Alan Armstrong, Partner, Brunlea Travel, Burnley, Age: 45

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