The Global Travel Group says its decision to hold an overseas conference next year reflects growing confidence in a consortium that is now attracting new and existing travel agency businesses.
Details of the Dubai event have not been released but the venue for the conference was announced on Monday by Ian Scott, director of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, at this year's Global conference in Chester.
Andy Stark, managing director of the agency group, said he expects attendees to be up next year to around 300 from 260 and he did not expect most members to have concerns about the time and costs associated with an overseas event.
As part of the Stella Travel Services group which also owns Travel 2, Global is now owned by Emirates Group's dnata and Stark said the new parent valued the agency group's contribution to the business.
"Dnata acquired the whole Stella portfolio all of which are very different businesses. One of the main attractive aspects of Global was distribution. It's an important part. With the wealth of agents we have we give dnata a massive distribution platform and they are comfortable with that. Plus a membership network like Global is of interest to them for business models in other countries they operate in."
More detail is likely to be known about dnata's influence on the future of Global after the early year trading period is over.
Stark added that Global had changed its model over recent years to make it cheaper for start-up members to join and to offer more tailored, flexible commercial options. He said that now means the consortium is attracting established agents - five of the 23 recruited last year were existing businesses.
"It's a big move to bring down up front costs but we are in a competitive market. There are people coming from either independent relationships who have decided to join a consortium or moving from existing partnerships. We are now on the list of options. Two years ago we would not have been."
Stark said churn of agents had been reduced by Global implementing a more thorough process for new members which go through a qualifying period. "People are very cautious. There's no point in us taking on a new member and them existing for only a year," Stark said.
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