NetTours woos agents after suspending operations in pandemic

Basingstoke tour operator NetTours is targeting travel agents, having restarted holiday sales after suspending operations during the pandemic.

Founder and managing director Andy Fixler said the family-run business turned its premises in Church Street, Basingtoke, into a tearoom after mothballing the tour operation when lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions stopped people taking holidays.

He founded NetTours in 2017 and started operating with online sales in 2018.

The business moved to the Church Street premises in January 2020 to offer a travel lounge for local customers.

The lounge was switched to a tearoom – serving homemade cakes, loose-leaf teas and coffees – because the hospitality sector was able to return more quickly than travel.

Fixler also operates an inbound business, taking US customers to central Europe, and that was able to resume in summer 2021.

The tearoom was closed in December 2021 and will again reopen as a travel lounge when a former member of staff re-joins the business in the near future.

Fixler recruited Elijah James Jago as sales and marketing specialist in December as plans for resuming the outbound tour operation began in earnest.

“It has been very challenging but better than carrying unbearable losses – there were too many changes with traffic lights and testing requirements; it was a spiral of problems,” Fixler said.

“My heart lies with travel and as soon as we could see the first signs of both outbound and inbound travel coming to life again, we turned our focus back on travel 100%.”

He has contacted about 1,500 agents as his business has resumed, as he hopes most of his sales will come through the trade.

As well as offering a “generous base commission” of 12%, Fixler hopes to arrange training, trade events and fam trips for agents.

“I have always worked with agents – I speak their language,” he said.

“I always go the extra mile for their customers.”

A member of Aito, NetTours has a Small Business Atol and is targeting about 1,000 passengers in the first year.

Initially the operator is offering holidays to the Azores, with British Airways’ new service, plus Madeira and Rhodes.

As restrictions relax further, NetTours aims to bring its full original range back, offering holidays in central Europe, Israel, Malta and Spain.

Fixler has more than 25 years of travel trade experience, having graduated from university as an economist specialising in travel and tourism.

He has worked in outbound and inbound travel, and has lectured on tourism.

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