Mark Warner has promoted James Garcia-Sierra to the newly created role of assistant sales manager to help increase travel agency bookings.

Garcia-Sierra (pictured) started working for the specialist sun and ski tour operator in 2014, assisting chefs at the Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee in Tignes.

He worked as a chef in Tignes and in Corsica, before joining the sales team at head office, rising to the role of sales team leader.

Justin Stanton, sales and marketing director, said: “He is tasked with supporting our trade partners, ensuring we’re giving those who work closely with us the support they need to be able to maximise our bookings.

“That includes regular communication, training and things like offering holidays with special reduced prices for agency staff where we can – there’s no better way for agents to learn about us than to go on holiday with us.

“One of James’ key aims over the next few months is to get out on the road to visit as many agents as possible to maximise trade sales of Mark Warner.”

Stanton added: “While direct business is our biggest channel, agents are very important to us, particularly for ski. I think in years to come people will come to value independent, knowledgeable advice more and more.

“We’re fortunate to work closely with a number of agents who know us and our product extremely well.”

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Stanton said sales in 2019 bounced back in the second half of the year, with passenger numbers on a par with previous years.

The operator opened Paleros Beach Resort in Greece last year and is looking to further develop its summer and ski programmes for 2021.

“We’re keen to grow, but not too fast; the most important thing is ensuring the guest experience is consistently good,” said Stanton.

Bookings for the ski programme are up 11% year on year, based on like-for-like sales, while bookings for the summer programme are up 15%, since the programmes went on sale.

“There is a definite trend for people looking for holidays where everything’s included. That’s a real advantage of booking Mark Warner,” said Stanton.

“With our summer holidays, a wide choice of water sports, land-based activities, childcare, dining plan, flights and transfers are all included in the holiday price so guests don’t need to worry about extra costs or unexpected bills – almost everything’s covered.

“I believe with issues around trust online and the sad loss of some travel companies, both big and small there’s also a trend to book with brand names with strong reputations that people know they can trust.”