Gold Medal and Travel 2 sales director Nick Hughes became Tipto chairman in August. Juliet Dennis catches up with him.

Tipto’s new chairman has outlined plans to attract more agents to the organisation’s roadshows and sign up further ambassadors as talks take place with four potential new supplier members.

Nick Hughes, sales director of Gold Medal and Travel 2, is confident agent numbers will not drop from the 1,750 who attended Tipto events between September 2018 and the end of August 2019, its 20th year.

This represented a 7% rise on the 1,634 agents who attended the networking and marketing organisation’s events the previous year.

Hays Travel’s decision to buy the leases of 555 shops of failed Thomas Cook could also drive up attendances, said Hughes, who added: “This exciting move by Hays, increasing the number of independent travel agencies in the market, means it is more likely Tipto event attendance will rise.”

Roadshows

Tipto is reviewing the quiz format of its SuperShows to make them more engaging, said Hughes.

In its latest feedback, all roadshows were rated good or excellent.

“With that type of feedback, we know it works well,” he said. “It’s a case of what can we make more of by freshening up roadshows with interactive quizzes.”

Hughes, who took over as chairman from Jane Atkins, added: “Graham Balmforth [a former chairman] will still be compere; he was rated 100% by agents at every show. But we want to carry on growing attendances.”

Tipto will run 31 events in its year to next August, including 21 roadshows, four SuperShows and five training days, plus its usual summer VIP events.

Ambassadors

After launching an agent ambassador scheme last year, Tipto is looking to recruit more. It currently has eight but Hughes says this could rise to 12.

The ambassadors are tasked with giving feedback and sharing Tipto information on social channels, and are invited to its VIP events.

Suppliers

Talks with a further four supplier members are under way.

Tipto currently has 20 members (see panel); last year it had 25. Of last year’s 25, seven left, while Uniworld and Jet2holidays have since joined.

“Some members leave because Tipto has done its job after two or three years,” said Hughes. “But the fact Jet2holidays joined shows that despite the fact Jet2 has a sales team it still finds value in what Tipto offers.”

Training

Tipto will also continue to develop its agent training modules, of which more than 14,000 were completed in the 12 months to August 2019.

It recently set up a Tipto Instagram page and has 3,300 members on its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Hughes said his appointment as chairman is one he is both excited and passionate about.

His first involvement with Tipto was when he attended a roadshow in Tipto’s second year as a Holiday Autos account manager. Now aged 43, he was behind the decision for Gold Medal to rejoin Tipto last year after a gap of several years.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Tipto,” he said. “I remember [former Super Break sales director] Ian Mounser saying to me when I was in my late 20s that I should look at becoming chairman – so when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t say no!”


Autumn roadshows

Tipto is gearing up for its next round of autumn roadshows.

Former Thomas Cook agents are also being “actively encouraged” to attend, with “all the usual benefits”.

Tipto’s next Face 2 Face roadshow is at Ipswich Town Football Club on October 29, followed by the Marriott Hotel in Peterborough on October 30 and Gloucester Rugby Club on November 12.

Further training days will be held in Leeds, Leicester and Birmingham in November followed by Brighton and Exeter in December. Tipto’s next SuperShow is at Drayton Manor Hotel on November 13.

Tipto’s members are: Bourne Leisure, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Do Something Different, Great Rail Journeys, Gold Medal/Travel 2, Holiday Extras, Hoseasons/James Villas, Inghams, Intrepid, Jet2holidays, Leger Holidays, Newmarket Holidays, Railbookers, RCD Hotels Group, Scenic/Emerald Waterways, Shearings Holidays, Titan, Trafalgar, Travelpack and Uniworld.