Special Report: Tipto revamps roadshow events

Special Report: Tipto revamps roadshow events

The Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation is to make major changes to its events line-up by introducing ‘super’ shows and reducing the number of smaller roadshows.

The revamp follows feedback from an independent survey of the networking and training group’s 15 operator members, and has also led to the addition of the phrase ‘face 2 face’ on the Tipto logo.

The organisation, which is about to enter its 17th year, will now hold 16 regional ‘A Date with Tipto’ roadshows a year, with only 12 to 13 operator members, who will have more time to talk to agents.

In addition, there will be four or five new ‘super shows’ for up to 150 agents, including, for the first time, agents from Thomas Cook. These will be held in cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester.

This compares with 25 regional roadshows, attended by all 15 members, in the past year.

The changes are part of a much‑needed restructure based on member feedback for face‑to‑face contact with agents in a structured environment, according to 
Zena Hill, who is staying on as chairman for a fifth year.

She said: “In order for Tipto to move forward, we have had to make these changes and the constitution has had to change.

“In all honesty, the constitution was not fit for purpose. Tipto was born 16 years ago to help independent agents take on the vertically integrated operators, and there has not been a great deal of change made to the constitution, but time has moved on.”

The 16 regional roadshows will give members 10 minutes instead of eight to address agents on new products, and will be reserved solely for independent agents.

As not all Tipto members will attend the 16 roadshows, they are being asked to rank locations in order of preference and will be guaranteed their top three choices.

The ‘super’ shows will be “all bells and whistles”. Agents will meet four to five operators in groups of 20, before a three-course dinner, entertainment and prizes such as holiday vouchers worth up to £1,000.

Members vote to boot out blackballing competitors

Tipto is to drop its controversial policy of ‘blackballing’, which has allowed members to veto rival operators from joining the organisation.

The decision will be welcomed by operators that have been keen to join the association in the past but have effectively been barred by their competitors.

Chairman Zena Hill said she was relieved by the move, which had to be voted on by members and required changing Tipto’s constitution.

Hill said: “In the past you would have tour operators saying ‘I don’t want so-and-so to join’ and so they couldn’t. We had to honour that.

“Very good operators were being kept out of Tipto, so many will say ‘thank god’ we have dropped it. I’ve had agents say it’s ridiculous.”

Hill said the policy, if retained, could have stopped the organisation expanding and even surviving, adding: “Tipto could have been the cause of its own demise because everyone had opted to blackball because they wanted to keep out competitors.”

One operator has decided to leave as a result of the change, but Hill expects more to join the existing 15 members following the new ruling.

Hill said talks are already taking place with five operators that want to join Tipto.

Applicants will still have to apply to join and pass a majority vote by members to be part of Tipto, and a cap of 25 members remains in place.

One of the association’s new members is over-50s specialist Saga Holidays.

The 64-year-old company, which began selling through travel agents only last October, becomes a member of Tipto next month.

Agency sales manager Sharon Moore said: “By joining Tipto we now have the opportunity to meet agents personally at the roadshow events and forge lasting relationships that allow us to work closely with the trade.”


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