Aito agent and operator pull off ‘historic’ £2m-plus booking

An Aito agent and tour operator have worked together to pull off a ‘historic’ booking worth just over £2 million.

The round-the-world booking by Aito travel agency Travelwise with Aito luxury operator Carrier is thought to be among the trade’s biggest-ever sales.

Teams from both specialist companies worked for “many months” to turn the client’s requests into reality.

The booking includes a two-week trip on a ‘super yacht’ around French Polynesia following an enquiry from a loyal client who has been booking with the independent, luxury agency based in London for more than 20 years. It is the client’s third booking this year.

Both Travelwise and Carrier credited their strong working relationship, levels of trust and expertise, enhanced by being part of The Specialist Travel Association (Aito), as key to the sale.

Travelwise director Nici Davies said six-figure bookings were not “unusual” but admitted: “A seven-figure booking is worthy of a celebration.”

She did not reveal the commission paid for the booking, but said: “Over our 44-year history we have worked hard to build strong relationships both with our clients and our suppliers.

“For a unique booking such as this we would only trust an operator in whom we had the utmost confidence and respect. That covers all the operators we book with in the Aito family but for a booking of this value and complexity the natural choice was Carrier.

“Obviously with a booking of this magnitude it takes time to get everything in place and the booking was many months in the making involving firstly days of research as to the correct options for the clients, lots of late nights waiting for responses from overseas and many hours trying to make the flight connections work.”

Carrier said the booking value was the highest in its history. Last year bookings from independent agents reached an all-time high for the operator, with five independent agents generating more than £1 million each in sales.

Travelwise is one of “just a handful” of Carrier’s strategic partners nationally, and already enjoys annual sales with the operator of more than £1 million a year.

Managing director Natasha Towey described Travelwise as one of the operator’s “most valued agent partners” and said it enjoyed a “deep working relationship” with all of the team at Travelwise, named Carrier’s Luxury Retail Agent of the Year UK for 2023.

She said: “This all-female team are laser focused on their niche and so confident in their own worth and value they add as expert travel advisors.

“The level of trust we share is entirely mutual and is absolute; demonstrated by them choosing to place this historic booking with Carrier.

“We have been thrilled to partner with Travelwise on this booking and it’s the cherry on the cake for everything they have achieved as an independent agent.”

She said bookings of this nature now made up 25% of total sales compared to just 4% in 2019, adding Carrier aimed to be the “go-to operator” for ‘high stakes’ bookings.

She added: “This booking was for product outside of most luxury tour operators’ standard portfolios – there are few luxury operators who could attract, facilitate and execute bookings of this nature.

“We understand these [bookings] require the highest levels of collaboration between us and the agent, attention to detail, flexibility and most of all trust, which is part of the Aito Quality Charter.”

Aito Agents chair Gemma Antrobus was “absolutely thrilled” by the booking, adding “less than a handful” of agents were likely to have achieved bookings of this worth.

She said: “Bookings like this don’t come around very often. It’s not uncommon to do bookings of hundreds of thousands but I’d be surprised if a heap of agents had done multi-million bookings.

“It shows the team work involved and that the relationship between the agent and their client, and the agent and the operator, is one of incredible trust, and shows the value of the Aito network.”

She said the success of the booking was testament to the dedication and team work of the agency’s staff and said their hard work would continue during the trip to ensure every element met the client’s needs.

She added: “Expectations will be very high, there is a lot of servicing and risk involved, and agents are here to show we do things you cannot do yourself. Rightly so the agent deserves to do really well for this booking.

“This booking is great for the industry, even outside of Aito, in terms of confidence, to see that bookings like this are coming through.”

Pictured: The Travelwise team pictured left to right: Pauline Duffin, director; Dallal BenRomdhane, senior consultant; Nici Davies, director; Kim Hart, director.

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