Trade sales converting ‘at really good rate’ for Scott Dunn

Trade sales at Scott Dunn are converting “at a really good rate” according to the luxury operator’s chief executive.

Sonia Davies said she was pleased with progress after the firm launched to the trade in all three of its source markets in the UK, the US and Asia-Pacific.

Scott Dunn began selling through US agents last year, following the business’s acquisition by Flight Centre Travel Group, and this March started working with its first UK-based agency, Swords Travel.

Speaking at Aspire’s Leaders of Luxury conference, Davies said: “We’re a couple of months in – we were actually in Australia two weeks ago launching as a B2B player in that market – and we’re still in that learning phase.

“Over the next few months, we’ll be gathering internal feedback from our teams, because we see that the enquiries that we are getting from our sister brands and from third party agents, be them ICs [independent contractors] or agencies, are converting at a really, really good rate – it’s as good as our repeat business.

“We’re probably a bit more like a tortoise – slow and steady. We are now part of a much bigger travel organisation so as we started this, we worked with our sister brands to make sure our processes worked and we changed the mindset of our teams, because they’re used to dealing direct-to-consumer.

“We’ve actually ring-fenced the team who are dealing with the agents – they’re all our senior consultants, so we’re not letting any of our novices loose in this area.”

Davies said moving forward the brand would collate internal and external feedback in order to “map out what investment we want to put forward”.

She added: “At the moment I’m championing this but that’s not sustainable and we now need to build it more into the fabric of what we do as a business and put the right resource and infrastructure in place to take this to the next level.”

Davies said Scott Dunn was seeing agents coming to the operator for its Explorers kids’ club product and expertise in family travel, as well as complex ski and high-end tailor-made trips.

The brand has also recently started selling more luxury cruise holidays and said it had mapped out a “two-year growth plan” to increase its volume of sales in the sector.

Davies said: “We’ve dabbled in expedition cruise for a number of years. We’re a land-orientated business, but the fundamentals of the cruise industry in terms of its growth in all of our source markets is huge, and the quality of the product coming on to the water has also lifted, so we couldn’t ignore it anymore.

“We’ve designed some itineraries that are two thirds land, one third cruise and we’re seeing some interest in that. What we’re getting coming in, in terms of demand, is converting and we haven’t even turned the marketing taps on yet.”

Davies said the operator was focused on “educating our team about how a cruise experience is different so that they can explain that to the clients” and said the next priority would be getting members of staff on to ships to experience the product.

“We’ve got to change the mindset of our team, we need to get our marketing right, we need to build our knowledge and design those experiences so that what we’re offering is a little bit different,” she said.

“We need to figure out why you would book that through someone like us and we see this as a two-year growth plan to get to meaningful volume.”

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