With the Agent Achievement Awards nearly upon us, Nicki Goldsmith from headline sponsor Virgin Atlantic encourages first-time guests to enjoy the ‘biggest celebration’ of the trade. Andrew McQuarrie reports
Q. Tell us why you’re headline-sponsoring the AAAs for the third time.
A. We are delighted to be headline sponsor of this celebration of the travel trade, honouring the industry’s best agents and agencies, for the third year in a row. Travel agents have always been vitally important to Virgin Atlantic and remain integral to our success. We know we wouldn’t be where we are without their support.
Q. How has 2023 gone so far?
A. It’s been a busy start to the year. The sales team have been out on the road meeting with many of our travel agent partners. We are so pleased with our performance for the first half of the year and want to say a big thank you to all the UK travel trade for their hard work and for booking Virgin Atlantic. However, we don’t stand still at Virgin Atlantic and continue to work towards our vision of becoming the most-loved travel company. We are delighted to be relaunching services between Heathrow and Dubai. The four-times-a-week service will operate seasonally from October through to March, capitalising on sunny winter breaks for sunshine-hungry Brits. Dubai will complement our growing collection of premium sun destinations, bolstered by the Maldives and Turks & Caicos Islands later this year, alongside our new service from Manchester to Las Vegas in summer 2024 and our soon‑to‑commence inter-Caribbean flights. Overall, we are on track for another year of growth, which is really a testament to the hard work of the sales teams and our travel agent partners.
Q. What are your main product focuses currently?
A. Last year we welcomed the brand‑new A330neo into our fleet, the first of 16 new‑generation aircraft from Airbus – continuing our fleet transformation into one of the youngest, cleanest, quietest fleets in the sky. The A330neo showcases our state-of-the-art cabin design, new seat design and the latest iteration of our famous social space The Loft. And, of course, we are also launching our new routes, working with the wider UK trade to fill our stunning aircraft.
Q. What are you doing to support your travel agent partners?
A. We’re doubling down on our commitment to be the best airline to do business with, and we’re behind our travel agents 100%. Our Partner Hub continues to ensure we share our latest news, policies and industry content. It’s much easier to navigate, features a new chatbot to answer questions, and reduces the need to call our sales support team. Additionally, through our trade incentive scheme, the Sky High Club, we are not only rewarding our frontline agents with exclusive trips, events and points, but also hosting dedicated training events this year with our European joint-venture partners to nurture and expand our key relationships with agents.
Q. What are your best AAAs memories?
A. It’s always a good time when we get to spend the evening with all our travel agent partners and share a glass of wine to celebrate their amazing achievements.
Q. What would your advice be for someone attending for the first time?
A. The AAAs are the biggest celebration of agents, so the only thing to do is enjoy yourself!
Q. What song will you be hoping to hear at the after-party?
A. Like a Virgin by Madonna, of course.