EasyJet Holidays has reiterated its intention to sell through the trade post Covid-19, saying the pandemic has highlighted how “helpful” agents can be.
Commercial director Alex Loftus said the operator needed to wait until the market started to pick up before launching to the trade, but said if he could speed up allowing agents to sell his holidays, he would.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly Webcast, Loftus said: “We’ve always had plans to work with the trade and we’re very much still talking to future partners. And if we can accelerate at all after this then we will do.
“We see a great opportunity. We’ve got some very well-known hotels and a great brand and we’re really looking forward to working with the trade as soon as possible. And discussions are very much continuing on that.”
But he added: “What we would like to do is wait until the market starts to actually pick up again, and we’re clearer in terms of what countries are open and what countries aren’t open. And then we will be working with the trade as soon as we can.
“It’s very much when the market returns that we’re looking at and our discussions continue. That’s why the timescales are a bit more uncertain because we don’t know yet how things are going to evolve, but it’s very much on our radar and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Asked if the situation had made having a third-party distribution network more important, Loftus replied: “Absolutely. We see agents can be very, very helpful.”
Der Touristik UK chief executive Derek Jones said agents were worth their weight in gold, revealing that the trade share of Kuoni new bookings in the last month had been more than double the usual figure.
“They [agents] are also loving our pro-active approach to dealing with customers with bookings departing in July and August – almost everyone is rebooking, 80% plus,” he said.
“The further forward when you speak to the customer, the more likely they are to rebook with us. And there’s almost a direct correlation – the quicker you get in to a customer, the longer before they are due to depart and the more likely they are to rebook.
“So our worst rebook rate is on the people who we end up waiting to talk to within three weeks. We only manage about 30% rebook on those customers,” he said.
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