Explore Worldwide plans more staff and trade tools to support agents

Adventure operator Explore Worldwide is on track for its second record year in a row, thanks in part to strong agency sales.

Joe Ponte, chief executive of parent company Hotelplan UK, told a Travel Weekly webcast that he will boost the trade team at Explore and continue investment in training, webinars and tools for agents.

“Explore is performing exceptionally well, particularly with travel agents in the UK,” he said.

“Its current sales with travel agents are up 26%.”

He hailed Explore’s managing director, Michael Edwards, and his team for their “tremendous job” and recent B Corp accreditation.

Explaining the brand’s success, he said: “Number one is no doubt what the team – Michael, Pip [Philippa Baines, agency sales manager] and the trade team have been doing over the last two years to ramp up the support that we have for travel agents: the training and the commission levels.

“[Agents] can see that working with Explore, they’re going to be in great hands and their customers are going to be in great hands.”

He said travel agents are also becoming “more attuned” to selling to “experiential” customers.

“They start to recognise those customers when they come in the door and be that ‘triage’ that we love our travel agents for, to help us finding the future explorers,” he said.

Ponte highlighted the expertise of the Explore team, which is separate from the Inghams staff.

“If you are an expert in adventure travel and group travel, it’s very hard to also understand the intricacies of 70 different ski resorts,” he explained.

And he pledged to continue the trade investment for Explore and the sister brands – Inghams and Santa’s Lapland – because of the importance of agency bookings.

“Santa’s Lapland is dominated by agent sales, as is Inghams…and Explore’s is going through the roof,” he added.

He said more recruits will join the teams led by Baines and Julie Franklin, who is head of agency sales for Inghams and Santa’s Lapland.

Furthermore, Explore will launch a portal “pretty soon” to offer agents “a really easy and seamless connection into the business and into their agent booking”.

More: Hotelplan brands ‘not affected’ by group sale, says chief

Explore Worldwide has ‘awful lot more to do’ despite achieving B Corp status

Explore’s final day of January discounting sees highest revenue in 42 years

Explore recruits agency sales executive from Audley Travel

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.