Aito recognised its top‑selling and most-improved agencies at The Specialist Travel Association’s All Stars awards at its Starfest conference in Leicestershire last weekend.

Beaver Travel, in Radlett, Hertfordshire, won the national award for All Star of the year for the sixth year running, and All Star for the south of England.

Journeys à la Carte, in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, and Worldwide Escapes, in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, took the gongs for central and northern All Star respectively.

All 81 Aito agent members enter the All Stars incentive scheme and are judged by their bookings of participating operators. Forty operators, which represent 33% of Aito supplier members, take part.

Seven agencies were nominated in the Most Improved All Star category, each of which had boosted sales of participating operators by more than 60%. The winner was The Travel Concept, in Mayfield, Sussex, with a 96% sales increase.

Bridget Keevil, of Travel Stop, won the Shining Star award as the agent who “most embodies Aito”.

Tour operators were also recognised, with Matt Spiller of InsideAsia Tours given the Shining Star award for outstanding service, as voted for by Aito Agents.

Aito Specialist Travel Agents chairman Gemma Antrobus, owner of Haslemere Travel, said: “Despite the long hot summer, Aito agents’ sales with the participating All Stars operators have been hugely encouraging. This confirms the fact that specialist travel agents benefit financially from the wide variety of carefully-curated themed and destination holidays created by Aito members.”

In the 12 months to December 2018, 11 Aito agent members’ branches exceeded £1 million in sales of Aito supplier members, yielding commissions in excess of £100,000 each. High achievers were predominantly based in the south, but there was a more even geographical spread among the 19 branches that recorded Aito supplier sales of over £500,000 and the 28 agency branches that sold more than £250,000 each.

Aito conference hosts more than 50 travel agents

More than 130 delegates, including 56 agents, attended Aito’s annual Starfest this year.

The event featured sessions  on ‘The Power of Persuasion’ and presentation skills.

A Mega Marketplace networking session between agent and supplier members, which created up to 700 meeting opportunities, took place to help operators share 2019 sales messages to agent members at the start of the peak selling season.

Aito executive director Kate Kenward said: “Aito members look forward to continuing their important partnership with the best independent agents in the UK. Face-to-face networking, product training and solid business relationships remain at the core of Aito’s philosophy.”

This year’s Starfest, which used to be called the Aito Domestic Conference, was held on January 5-6 and was sponsored by Classic Collection Holidays and If Only.