Luxury sports travel operator BlackOpal to work with travel agents

A family-run tour operator specialising in luxury sports travel packages plans to work with the wider trade for the first time.

BlackOpal Travel Group, set up in 2019 by co-owner Jamie Smith, former head of sport at ITC Luxury Travel Group, currently works with just a handful of travel agents.

It has now recruited Kym O’Brien, former business development manager for ITC Luxury Travel Group, as part of its bid to promote the brand’s profile in the trade and develop meaningful relationships with independent agents.

The operator is an official ticket supplier for major rugby, cricket, Formula 1, tennis, horse racing and golf events. It sells luxury packages, which include tickets for events such as The US Masters 2022, accommodation, tours and flights. It has international sports stars such as former England cricket captain David Gower, current England International cricketer Zak Crawley and former Scotland Rugby International Scott Hastings as brand ambassadors who join its tours to give talks or spend the evening with clients.

O’Brien said: “We know there are agents who want to book this type of holiday but it’s a market some agents could shy away from because it’s  niche.

“We want to get the brand recognition and let agents know who we are. As sports events start up again, we feel it’s the right to go to agents. We have a trade-first policy and have worked hard to make sure we are very transparent so everything comes to the trade at the same time as direct.”

She stressed it was not just about giving access to tickets to sporting events, but also about experiences to take clients “one step beyond being just a spectator” and providing a luxury holiday.

The operator offers ‘healthy commissions’ to agents, added O’Brien.

The company is also opening a travel agency office in Hale in greater Manchester next week.

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