Aito has appointed its first trade partnerships manager in a bid to strengthen ties between travel agents and specialist tour operators.

Marietta Maidman joined Aito, The Specialist Travel Association, this week from a role at luxury cruise, hotel and rail operator Belmond, and has previously worked managing retail agents and consortia at Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Carnival UK.

She said: “It’s a brand new position. One of the things we have identified is that communication is key, so part of my role will be communicating to agents and all our partners.

“It’s about understanding the relationship between tour operators and travel agents, so agents understand what tour operators are looking for and tour operators understand what agents are looking for, so they can maximise that trade relationship.”

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Maidman will be based on the road visiting travel agents and tour operators, recruiting new members or supporting agent events, and running training sessions.

Martyn Sumners, executive director at Aito, said: “I am delighted that Marietta has joined the Aito family. With up to 80% of Aito’s members already selling a variety of products through the trade, it was an important step to reinforce that specialist travel can be sold through agents. It’s a lucrative market with customers looking for new experiences and being prepared to spend to get exactly what they want.

“Marietta’s extensive specialist travel experience from cruising to tour operating and tourist boards, building solid partnerships with both operators and agents, will prove to be invaluable in the current climate, where trust and transparency will become increasingly important.”

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