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Hays Travel and Bolsover Cruise Club to continue selling Saga

Saga remains tight-lipped on how many agent partners it will retain as the over-50s specialist reduces trade distribution, but Hays Travel and Bolsover Cruise Club will continue to sell the brand.

The cruise and escorted touring operator said last week it would be “moving to work with a smaller group of trade partners” from February 20 with the aim of “building stronger relationships”.

The UK’s largest agency, Hays Travel, confirmed its retail shops, Independence Group consortium members and homeworking groups Personal Travel Consultants and Explorer Travel would continue to sell Saga.

Chesterfield-based Bolsover Cruise Club said it had “a great relationship” with Saga and would also continue selling its products.

Travel Weekly understands Saga’s decision to trim trade ties will affect escorted tours distribution more than its cruise product.

However, Saga-owned Titan Travel has reassured agents it will continue to work with them.

Agents whose commercial deals are ending were sent a document saying they cannot market or sell Saga after February 19, though bookings made up until then will be honoured.

Saga, which started selling through agents in 2014, was criticised by the trade for its “out of the blue” decision.

Jill Waite, director of Pole Travel in Failsworth, said: “It’s really unfair for agents who booked a lot of Saga. They will lose clients to Hays.”

Aspen Travel agent Karen Allen said the team had “stripped” Saga brochures off the shelves of its Sale shop despite having £168,000 worth of bookings departing this year.

Nick Lee, of Broadland Travel Worldchoice, said he switch-sold a customer to Titan after learning of Saga’s decision.

Kelly Cookes, leisure director at Advantage Travel Partnership, said the consortium’s members were “disappointed” with the move, but member feedback suggested Saga’s target demographic “needs a lot of support with testing and paperwork”.

Saga declined to comment further on its strategy when approached by Travel Weekly.

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