Advantage Travel Partnership is advising members on contingency plans to help their businesses survive during the coronavirus crisis.

Leisure director Kelly Cookes said the travel agency consortium was looking at proactive ways agents could protect their businesses, from negotiating rent breaks with shop landlords to delaying marketing campaigns.

So far the consortium has not had calls from members considering reductions in their working hours but some were looking at remote working options.

Cookes said: “We are contingency planning and giving members as much practical advice as we can on what they can do. There will certainly be some worried businesses out there.

“Working from home is definitely one of the scenarios we could see if the technology allows members to do that. We are also talking to members about negotiating lease breaks and we are looking at marketing activity they can delay until later in the year.

“It is early days in terms of what impact this is having. Bookings have only started to be impacted in the last seven to ten days and no-one knows how long this will go on for.”

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Reducing staff hours or laying off staff would be a “last case scenario” for travel agencies, she added. “We are trying to look at other options that do not impact people and talking to members constantly about what they want us to do,” she said.

Cookes said the consortium was also urging members to plan for longer term when there was likely to be a ‘bounce back’ in holiday bookings.

Advantage is briefing members regularly with coronavirus updates and business advice through its own members meetings, face to face agency visits, a dedicated section on its intranet, and on e-mail.

Cookes also added that many members were spending more time on staff training following a slowdown in the market.