Small group tour operator Jules Verne has hailed the value of sales via travel agents, as its trade bookings rose from almost zero to 20% of its business in just 11 months.
The operator – part of Kuoni parent Der Touristik UK – announced in January that it would start actively selling through agents for the first time.
Abbey Renshaw, business development and communications manager, said the operator’s overall sales this year are currently ahead of 2019 and thanked agents for their contribution to the revenue growth.
She said the proportion of agency sales so far in November had reached almost 50% – and the average booking value through agents is £7,500 while the direct figure is about £4,000.
“That’s the value that agents bring,” she said.
“I cannot thank them enough for promoting the brand and helping our revenues to rise because of the conversations that they are having with their customers.
“Agents know that we will look after their customers and will give them extraordinary adventures.”
Her comments came as Jules Verne unveiled its revamped website featuring more detailed tour information to help agents find the right holiday to suit their customers’ requests.
The new-look site has an improved search function; a dedicated travel agent page for news and brochure ordering; and a ‘meet the team’ page.
Next year will see further upgrades to the website including an agent booking platform.
“The website should be the number-one selling tool for agents selling Jules Verne,” said Renshaw.
“They can turn their screen towards the clients and show all the pictures – we have lots of pictures featuring people at sites such as the Taj Mahal and Great Wall of China.
“It’s more inspirational to show these places with people there.”
Renshaw has been meeting agents at conferences such as Hays Travel in November and the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) in October, and also regularly visits branches for in-store events or training.
“Our first year as a partner of Atas has been amazing; it is one of the best things we have been part of,” she said.
“We are now gearing up for peaks with a packed calendar of training and meeting agency partners.”
She said more fam trips are in the pipeline, following the success of its first one in October to Egypt.
Also in the pipeline is the launch of the operator’s worldwide brochure and the unveiling of 20 new tours in the first quarter of 2024.
“Our biggest message for the trade is how we have built a fantastic community in just 11 months,” she added.
“We are there to support you, as a small friendly tour operator. The amount of connections we have made has been shown by our revenues.”