Independent luxury operators are missing out on sales because they refuse to open call centres on Sundays during the peak booking periods, agents claim.
While large operators such as Kuoni and Tui-owned Sovereign and Hayes & Jarvis are open on Sundays, smaller independent suppliers, including Carrier, ITC Classics, Caribtours and W&O Travel, remain closed.
Agents said this was forcing them to switch-sell to the larger operators in some cases rather than keep customers waiting until Monday.
Designer Travel managing director Amanda Matthews said: “In the peak booking months it’s astonishing that the small luxury operators are not open on Sundays. Some even close at lunchtime on a Saturday.
“As homeworkers we work whenever the clients want us to. Providing that service is critical in the luxury sector. With the technology available these days, there’s no reason why someone can’t be on call at the weekend even if the main call centre isn’t open.”
Nick Harding-McKay, managing director of Travel Designers in Clapham, opened on a Sunday for the first time last week. He said: “It’s certainly something we will be extending. It shocked me to see how many operators were closed. I think they are missing out on trade.”
Caribtours, ITC Classics and W&O Travel all said they had extended their opening hours in January but still do not open on Sundays.
Lee Marshall, business development director at ITC Classics, said: “In our experience, Sunday opening has not been a factor for us as we work only with independent businesses, who are not traditionally open on Sundays.
“We have trialled extended weekend opening hours in the past and our agent partners didn’t feel it was beneficial.
“We have instead launched extended weekday hours for our key agents and this is working exceptionally well so far.”
Steve O’Loughlin, head of sales at W&O Travel, added: “If we had a homeworking division then we might open on a Sunday; that’s something we’re looking at for the future.”
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