An agent website soft launched to The Midcounties Co-operative Travel in partnership with On Holiday Group has seen sales targets exceeded fourfold to deliver turnover of more than £1 million in January – its first month of trading.
Sales via the Co-op Value site are claimed to have outperformed those of vertically integrated operators in the peak sales period in the first month of the year.
Higher margins are being delivered due to a combination of a non-discounted ‘everyday low prices’ approach and exclusive hotel discounts that have been contracted for the site.
Midcounties travel services general manager Alastair Rowland (pictured) said: “Staff love the simplicity of the booking process and product filters, which allow agents to instantly refine searches to take into account hotel reviews from 10 million customers. This has allowed agents to quickly focus down on the best value holidays, through this combined price and quality search”
“By offering a full range of low cost carrier flights, the Co-op Value site has a much lower average flying cost than the traditional tour operators, which when combined with great value hotels, means our staff can undercut the prices of the traditional operators, while still making a very healthy non-discounted margin.
He emphasised the importance of maintaining strong relationships with the major tour operators, but also the importance of alternative options.
“Independent retailers have to accept that the major tour operators have sufficient in-house distribution via shops and the internet to allow them to only work with independent retailers that add value due to the strength of their retail network in specific geographical areas.” said Rowland.
“Midcounties is in a strong position because of the complementary nature of its network to the majors’ own retailers, but even we have to make it clear we have alternative products that we can switch-sell to if the majors do not play fair on commission or discount levels compared to their own shops. The development of Co-op Value therefore gives us a key tool in this commercial negotiation.”
On Holiday Group provides operational support, a 24-hour duty office, technology and dedicated contracting resource.
Rowland added: “I think tour operations like Co-op Value will rapidly grow, since they allow agents to tailor-make holiday requirements, but still call upon the tour operating skills of the On Holiday Group team when it comes to delivering the tour operation and negotiating extra discounts from hotels to be featured at the top of our destination searches, email shots and window displays.
“It is not a full replacement for the major tour operators, but does allow our agent to offer quality holidays that earn good commission levels.”
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