This week 650 delegates will head to Southampton for the 10th Clia Conference – pretty impressive given the first such cruise event a decade ago attracted about 200.
This growth is reflective of the number of agents who have switched on to a once-niche sector based on excellent product, strong supplier support and decent earning potential.
And with these elements front-of-mind when agents decide what to sell, it will be interesting to see what the newly named Travelopia offers the trade as it looks to “grow its business via third-party high street agents”, following the announcement that it is to be sold by Tui.
Travelopia claims “all of its businesses are trade and direct” currently, but for many of its more than 50 brands, the proportion of sales coming through agents must be minuscule.
And while there’s no doubting it has some incredible specialist brands in its portfolio, there will be some agents who won’t have touched them with a barge-pole because of their Tui association.
With increasingly stringent rules on packages making reliable suppliers ever more important to agents, the news that these operators will be more trade-focused is a positive sign.But as I’ve heard at the two consortia conferences I’ve attended recently – and as I’m sure I’ll hear at the third next week – the importance of trust and partnership has never been greater.
Like any trade partner, Travelopia will need to work hard to educate, train, support and reward agents if it wants their business in return.
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