Independent agents are failing to exploit an expanded programme of regional flying from Inghams’ parent company, according to the ski specialist.
Hotelplan, which also owns the chalet specialist Ski Total and family-focused Esprit brands, says all the growth it is seeing is coming from its regional departures.
In a trading update this week, Andy Perrin, chief executive of Hotelplan UK, said the operator last winter recorded its “best performance” filling committed airline seats for two decades.
He estimated the ski market overall grew just 1% to 2% after a difficult start in December, when snowfall came late, and predicted growth of 2% to 3% this year.
Perrin admitted the firm’s approach had been too London-centric. This year, it will double the number of flights for its Santa Lapland to 14 from airports such as Southampton and Exeter.
“When it comes to agents, the feeling is a mix of frustration and excitement,” he said.
“The frustration is rooted in the fact that we have a massive regional flight programme and we have not managed to crack getting regional agents behind it.”
Inghams offers flights out of 29 UK airports, taking advantage of flexible scheduled models favoured by carriers such as Monarch and Jet2.com.
Perrin believes many agents lack confidence selling ski because many customers are well-informed.
However, he said: “Agents should not worry about that. We can help them make the sale by joining them on the call or putting us on speakerphone.”
As Travel Weekly reported in July, Hotelplan is using Ski Total reps as trade-facing ambassadors.
Ski sales for this winter have started strongly, with Inghams and Esprit up 5% and Ski Total up 2%, but December is slow and the operator has released festive deals.
Perrin said the strength of the pound was a “massive” positive.
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