This season’s peaks starts now, not in January, travel agents were told as they were encouraged to ‘take advantage’ of the window of opportunity for selling the Canary Islands and the Maldives.

Jet2holidays’ head of trade Alan Cross said agents need to “come out fighting” for sales after the island destinations, along with Mykonos in Greece, were added to the UK travel corridor list.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast shortly after the announcement, Cross said: “Peaks doesn’t start in January this season, peaks starts now.

“It’s a critical time ahead. We have seen a trend in the past month, that agents have lost the will; they have had the guts knocked out of them, and they need to pick themselves up and come out fighting.

“They need to sell – there’s a peaks there for winter, sell that. Come early December, peaks is for late winter and for summer next year and that’s what they need to really focus on.”

Cross urged agents to get their best sales people back in their businesses to “take advantage”.

“There’s an opportunity and if they’ve furloughed too many staff, if they’ve got just one person running an office which is not a proactive way of selling, they cannot take it. If they’re closed on Wednesdays, closed on Saturdays, if they’ve reduced their hours, it’s not going to be good for the travel agent; it puts the customer off and makes it harder for them to book,” he said.

“Be proactive now; get your best sales people back and go out and service your existing customers, and look for new customers at the same time. Because if you don’t do it, another travel agency will, or the customer will go elsewhere to book it.

“We need the agents to have confidence in the market out there. There’s a window to take advantage of. And I would recommend and plead that they be proactive and that they market themselves properly.”

Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan agreed with Cross: “From my business perspective, and to Alan’s point, we’re still trading every single day, six days a week, and we’ve got phones open on Sunday as well. I think that’s really, really important.

“You’ve got to be there. If you’re closing on a Wednesday, or something like that, it doesn’t look good. And I know that’s hard from a financial perspective. Yes, you’ve got to cut costs and keep an eye on your cost line, but the best way [out of the crisis] is to drive sales.”

Morgan said his company’s marketing effort had been “as strong as it’s ever been” over the last two or three months. “We’re all over social; we’re pushing stuff out to past clients all the time, and we’re finding we are getting a result from doing that,” he said. “It is successful. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about hibernating for winter but I don’t buy that I’m afraid, you need to do a lot more than that. I think that’s almost the best way to oblivion.

“You absolutely have to drive the sales line, because there are people out there buying and even more so on the back of last week’s announcement.”

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