Virgin Holidays managing director Mark Anderson has admitted his decision to turn the long-haul operator into a direct-sell-only business "has not won me any popularity awards with agents" but said he would not be reversing the move.
Addressing a room full of hotel, destination, attraction/experience and car hire partners at the annual Virgin Holidays pre-World Travel Market party and awards, Anderson said: "And now to the elephant in the room... our decision to go direct.
"I'm well aware I haven't won any popularity awards with agents, but owning the customer expererience end-to-end is really important to us as it helps us enhance the overall experience for the customer, particularly pre-departure.
"We want to become a top three company in the UK for customer experience and we are well on our way - our Net Promoter scores are very high."
He said ?Virgin Holidays was having a really good year and would "significantly smash our budgets" for 2015.
Anderson said this had been achieved through working more closely with Virgin Atlantic and realising more synergies with the airline.
He added that the operator would be securing even more leisure flying from its sister airline going forward.
He also said Virgin Holidays had been concentrating this year on "simplifying the whole business and making sure that we put all of our costs into making the experience for the customer better".
New customer-focused initiatives to be unveiled shortly include a fully-responsive website with regional recognition, and some brand new travel propositions never offered by Virgin Holidays before, designed to appeal to new market segments, promised Anderson.
He predicted both new initiatives would lead to further meaningful growth for the operator.
Anderson finished by commenting on Virgin Holidays' continued drive to "be a force for good and the need to achieve total equality in travel".
"Travel should be for everyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical need, and Virgin Holidays passion?ately believes these will cease to even be issues in the future," he said.
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