Benefits of membership up 35%, Advantage conference to be told

Benefits of membership up 35%, Advantage conference to be told

Advantage agents at this weekend’s annual overseas conference in Bodrum, Turkey, will be told that the financial upside of membership increased by 35% last year.

The agency consortium claims that the benefit of membership stood at £23,000 for the financial year ending September 2014.

Advantage Travel Partnership managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said (pictured) will tell members tomorrow that half way through the current financial year the benefits of membership have increased on last year.

She will give an update on the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan which was launched last year after Bue-Said took over at the help of the travel agency group.

The five-year plan set out how Advantage intended to improve performance of its members based on eight key “Centres of Excellence” including marketing and communications, air strategy, Atol solutions and financial services.

Colin O’Neil, Advantage sales and marketing director, said the update to members would be in the style of a Plc setting out its performance to shareholders.

He added that direct marketing activity undertaken in partnership with members last financial year grew in value by £5 million and that this year was already running well ahead of 2013/14.

In addition the consortium has seen 570 staff of member agencies both in the corporate and leisure sectors undertake some form of bespoke training programme in the last year.

This year’s conference, being hosted in the Sea Garden resort, a Mark Warner property, has continued with the recent tradition of combining Advantages leisure and corporate arms.

Building on last year’s event in Dubai leisure delegates will hear the stories of some of their fellow agent members on Saturday with sessions involving Polka Dot Travel and Idle Travel.

O’Neill said the Idle Travel session will highlight how owner Tony Mann has revitalised his west Yorkshire-based travel agency business.

On Saturday the conference will have a technology focus when Baroness Susan Greenfield addresses the mind set of the twenty first century workforce and customer.

And following her Wired editor David Rowan will explain how technology will shape the future after which Travel Weekly sister title Travolution will introduce a special session showcasing technology.

This will highlight the work that the London Mayor’s official promotional company London & Partners is doing to establish the city as the world’s leading centre for travel technology.

One of the members of its first travel technology incubator, Timelooper, will then demonstrate its virtual reality technology.

O’Neill said: “The idea is that we show our delegates and members technology to inspire them, not to scare them about what is coming.”

He added Advantage was keen to exploit its London connections - the group is based close to Old Street dubbed 'Silicon roundabout' - to benefit its members.

A second firm, exClone, will also demonstrate its virtual travel agent technology. Both firms have bases in Turkey.

On Sunday the conference will be rounded off in traditional style with a keynote address from a famous speaker, this year Jeremy Paxman, fresh from fronting Channel 4’s election night coverage.

And to round things off Advantage non-executive chairman Steve Esom will give his thoughts on the conference.


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