New chairman Jane Atkins believes Tipto can only get better, she tells Juliet Dennis

New Tipto chairman Jane Atkins is hoping to increase the number of agents who attend events as the association boasts its largest membership for more than a decade.

Atkins took over on August 1 from Zena Hill, who had served four years as chairman of the Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation, which is entering its 18th year.

Her appointment comes as Tipto plans more travel agent Face 2 Face roadshows between now and next summer, 23 compared with 19 last year, with the first taking place next week.

It is also running five SuperShows instead of four, one of which has already taken place, and five classroom-style training days, up from four last year.

For Atkins, who was vice-chairman between 2014-15 and is sales and product director at SuperBreak, the events are about giving agents “that killer bit of information” that enables them to clinch a sale. Last year more than 1,400 agents attended, with 99% rating the roadshows as “good” or “excellent”, but she believes the association can still attract more.

She said: “I would love to get more agents at our events and I would urge them to take advantage of the free training and information. It’s about them improving their business and growing it.

“For agents, they can get that killer bit of information that isn’t on the internet and helps them to close a sale and make the customer go back to them.”

The SuperShows are larger than the traditional roadshows, with prizes of a minimum £1,000 in vouchers towards a holiday with a Tipto member, compared with a minimum of £500, and open to any agents, including those who work at multiples. Last year, 13% of agents who attended were from multiples.

The training days, introduced last year, will include sessions by Capela Training and focus on marketing for high street agents and homeworkers.

Atkins said: “Last year’s training days concentrated on social media as a marketing channel. This year we want to incorporate that in more-rounded sessions. The aim, by the end of the session, is that people will be able to write their own marketing plan: this would really suit new agency owners and assistant managers.”

Tipto now has 22 members following the announcement this week that Great Rail Journeys has rejoined the association after a two-year break. Bourne Leisure also recently rejoined Tipto following a four-year gap.

These additions follow a major shake-up of Tipto’s constitution under Hill, which stopped the practice of ‘blackballing’, by which members could prevent rival suppliers from joining.

Atkins now hopes more suppliers will be attracted to join Tipto to cover all travel sectors – and says there is no maximum for the number of members.

“Operators recognise it is a great way to get some more distribution. We don’t have a ski operator, so if one wants to knock at our door we would be delighted, but I am not fixated on the number of members we have,” she said.

Face 2 face roadshows
November 2: Cumbria/Penrith
November 3: Durham
November 16: Bournemouth
November 17: Portsmouth
November 22: Milton Keynes
November 23: Norwich

Training days
November 30: Southampton
December 1: Swansea
December 2: Manchester
December 6: Birmingham
December 7: Liverpool