Benjamin Coren reports from the operator’s Access All Areas event

Over two days in mid-November, Gold Medal invited 80 agents to visit its new offices as part of its Access All Areas (AAA) event.

The trade-only tour operator holds two AAA events per year, where agents from all over the country come for business updates, to meet call centre staff and suppliers.

Gold Medal usually invites 40 agents to the event but, to celebrate moving to Lancaster House in Leyland from its former offices at the Trident Centre in Preston Docks, doubled the number of attendees.

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Kerry Gallagher, dnata Travel marketing director of B2B in Europe, said: “The event enables agents to broaden their knowledge of our products, we are continually sharing knowledge and it’s good for suppliers to get in front of agents. It’s also great [for the agents] to meet other agents.”

Five suppliers showcase their products to the agents after they are welcomed by key account manager Louisa Jackson, who updates agents on Gold Medal’s latest incentives.

The group was split into three for the supplier sessions, which were delivered jointly by Dubai hotel Atlantis The Palm and Emirates; Visit Florida and Virgin Atlantic; and a third from Visit Barbados.

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Gallagher said: “When we request feedback from agents, we nearly always get a 100% positive rating. It enables them to put a face to a name, it’s more like a family and develops that relationship.

“Agents can meet the call centre staff they speak to on a daily basis, it takes that always business level, functional relationship to something that is much more – like a partnership. Meeting in a relaxed environment empowers that relationship and that aids the whole process. Suppliers also need that opportunity to facilitate their relationships with agents.

“Suppliers live and breathe that product, day in, day out. Agents find it very engaging and they get more in-depth knowledge that they wouldn’t find in a brochure. Wherever we can enhance that first-hand knowledge is a key thing in the agent-supplier relationship.”


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Gold Medal headquarters

The offices were formerly the headquarters for truck manufacturer Leyland DAF. Employees’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as sustainability, were at the forefront of the operator’s vision when selecting a site and developing the offices.

A strong emphasis was placed on bright, open spaces, large windows and open-plan work spaces. Managers sit with the other staff, promoting applicability. Even dnata’s Europe B2B chief executive John Bevan doesn’t have his own office.

There are breakout areas throughout, with tea rooms on each floor acting as a separate area for breaks. Staff are not allowed to eat lunch at their desks and encouraged to use the large canteen, which can be adapted for social events and is subsidised.

In the middle of the main atrium is a newly-built seating space, which sits above new meeting rooms on the ground floor. Each of the rooms is sponsored by one of Gold Medal’s partners.

They include: One&Only Resorts; Atlantis The Palm’ Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts; Las Vegas Tourist Board; Virgin Atlantic; and Walt Disney World Resorts Florida. Tourism Australia and Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai have also sponsored sections of the restaurant.


What the agents had to say

“The product knowledge and information Gold Medal offers on products is great. It also gives me more options to offer customers alongside our in-house products.”
– Tilly Hodson, Tui, Leyland

“It’s great to find out more about the products. I started my franchise six months ago, so expanding my supplier knowledge and attending days like this is invaluable. The new offices are amazing.”
– Chris Quinn, Not Just Travel, Cheshire

“It gives a real insight into how it all works. It puts a face to who we are talking to and it gives us the chance to get updates on the business and from the suppliers. The offices are bright and open.”
– Lucy Harold, Bay Travel, Morecambe

“If you aren’t buying right then you can’t sell right. They have worldwide knowledge and we can fill in our knowledge gaps. It’s important to know a product in depth before you sell it.”
– Darren and Beverley Sandy, Nepenthe Travel, Wakefield

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