Hays Travel is to host more than double the number of shop managers at its annual overseas conference after taking over Thomas Cook’s shop network.

In total, 775 delegates are now due to attend the Hays Travel’s Overseas Managers’ Conference 2019 on November 12-16 at the Rixos Premium Belek resort in Antalya, Turkey instead of 345.

This follows the group’s acquisition of Thomas Cook’s 555-strong retail estate. To date, Hays has taken on 2,050 former Cook staff and opened 214 of the former Cook shops.

Group chair Irene Hays said the timing of the conference provided a “terrific opportunity” to meet Thomas Cook managers now working for Hays Travel.

She said: “Clearly not all 555 shop managers will be coming but we think it’s a great opportunity for us to meet all the managers and the timing of it couldn’t be better in preparation for the busy sales period.”

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Hays confirmed that some sponsors had been asked for an increased sponsorship fee as a result of the conference more than doubling in size, and said further meetings on sponsorship as well as conference logistics were due to be discussed next week. Previously companies would have dealt separately with Thomas Cook to sponsor their events.

She said: “Our team has approached some sponsors in advance of our meeting next Thursday. Our conference presents an opportunity to consolidate two conferences into one with all the subsequent savings on accommodation and flights, without having to do everything twice. Hopefully it will be better value for them.”

Currently there are plans to take four dedicated aircraft of delegates to the conference with Jet2.com. All delegates will be housed at the same conference hotel but Hays admitted an “overflow hotel” may be needed as attendee numbers rise.

As part of the conference, there will be an additional focus on the differences between the Hays Travel and Thomas Cook business models to help former Cook staff understand their new company better.

On the final night, a big celebration is planned to welcome former Cook staff to the Hays Travel family,. “We love a good party and the ambition is to have one of our biggest parties of all time,” she added.