Fred Holidays has embarked on a recruitment drive as the operator bids to boost market share and help Fred Olsen Travel achieve another record-breaking year.
Tour operations director Tricia Birmingham took on her newly created role seven months ago, when her team numbered 38. It is now 46-strong and set to grow to 56 by early 2024.
Half of the new roles are in travel sales. A new product support role was filled by an internal promotion, while posts including marketing manager, sales manager, customer services manager and business development executive have been created.
Birmingham is also keen to boost awareness of the brand among other independent agents.
A tour operating structure has been implemented with existing and new staff, including a new customer contact centre.
“I want us to be a service-led tour operator proposition,” she said.
“We are answering calls within 90 seconds on average and are able to handle enquiries on the spot.”
She added: “We are on track to have a record year as a group. All parts of the organisation are playing their part. The tour operation has seen double-digit growth this year and we have already surpassed 2019.”
The tour operation will focus on the Fred Holidays brand to make it easier for agents to understand what it does: offering tailor-made arrangements with rail, ocean and river cruises, cruise-and-stay, tours, short breaks and long-stay holidays.
Fred Holidays also operates as GSA [general sales agent] for Amadeus River Cruises, Pandaw River Cruises and American Cruise Lines.
Birmingham added that the operator’s breadth of product and specialisms meant agents could use it as a “one-stop-shop”.
“When agents are unsure which tailor-made tour operator to turn to, we want them to think of us and ‘ask Fred Holidays’,” she said.
The operator is planning marketing, incentives and training for agents in the peaks period, and next year will see a revamped website, new trade portal and fam trips.
Two business development managers, Briony Worrall and Claire Webb, visit agents in stores and at trade events, supported by head of business development Laura Wilson. A third BDM may be recruited.