Advantage is on target to reach 50 managed service agencies by next spring as Leeds-based Top Choice Holidays becomes the first to join since the consortium became an approved body under the new Atol regulations.
The Advantage Managed Services model allows agents to free up time to sell holidays by taking on their administrative work.
The scheme also offers access to services available to all Advantage members, such as direct marketing and business support.
The consortium’s head of business development David Moon said increasing the current 13 agency locations to 50 within a year, as predicted at this year’s Advantage conference, was now “within range” with several more agencies expected to sign up within weeks.
Moon said: “We are happy with the progress we are making towards 50. We have several agencies in the pipeline. We really want to concentrate on quality businesses.”
New members are likely to include some existing Advantage agents, which are looking to change their business model to free up time spent on paperwork and concentrate on sales and marketing.
Moon added: “Agents are attracted by the amount we offer. We have excellent commercial deals but it’s what we offer beyond that. I think approved body status has made a difference.”
Freedom Travel Group member Top Choice Holidays is expected to become a full AMS agent by the end of October.
Owner Steven Manning said he had been attracted by the AMS technology and marketing back-up, as well as the fact it was competitvely priced.
But he also admitted he was not comfortable sitting within the Thomas Cook group following the merger with Freedom parent The Co-operative Travel.
“We have been with Freedom for six years and this is just the next stage but Freedom is also part of Thomas Cook which undercuts us on its own direct website,” he said.
Manning is also hoping to build the agency’s high end agency base and use the improved technology to monitor customers’ call history to ensure staff spend time on the most worthwhile bookings.
“We are not looking to do last minute budget holidays,” he said. “We want to be appreciated for giving professional advice and going the extra distance for clients.”
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