Tours, sightseeing and activities specialist isango is aiming to increase its agent partners but up to 40% this year as it “aggressively pushes” its presence in the trade.

A conference is currently being planned for agents in the UK in 2019, and isango says its “high margin product” has helped its existing agent partners minimise the impact of increased costs since the ban on card payment charges was introduced last January.

More tours are to be added in Asia, the Middle East and South America this year as the company expects tourism to grow in each region. It launched 1,200 tours and entered 28 new countries in 2018.

Webinars and new online training is planned, with each new agent going through an induction process. Sales support is given from a call centre.

Around 90 agents are already signed up to isango, but managing director Vinay Gupta says performance relies on working with quality agents.

“We want to make sure they are genuine agents, who are genuinely interested in what isango offers,” he told Travel Weekly. “It’s not about huge numbers but about people who are really serious about the business.

The platform has thousands of tours across more than 300 destinations, and has agreements with its suppliers to give late and “on-the-fly” availability that is not possible direct on visits to landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower. It also sells to consumers and its commission structure is based on agents’ past sales via isango.

Gupta said: “We believe that travel agents have a very strong relationship with their customers – it’s easy for them to cross-sell – but they are looking for more tools to help them increase sales of tours and excursions. We’re here to give agents that support.

“We have been aggressively pushing ourselves in the B2B space and want agents to feel comfortable on the platform. Tours and activities are a high margin product, certainly more than hotels or airlines. It’s a natural fit that works for both agents and isango.”

Gupta added: “People are wanting to do more on holiday, and that’s where I think travel is very exciting as a business.”

He said isango offers tours for both first-time visitors to destinations and for others who are returning or want to get “under the skin” of a destination.

He noted a rise in food tours, photography, wine tasting and ‘pub hopping’.

“People still want to see the sights but they want to take it to the next level,” Gupta said. “You might want to see the Sagrada Familia [in Barcelona] and go for some tapas or a drink, or even learn how to take great pictures at the same time.”