A member of a supplier’s trade team who has been made redundant defends the importance of the role

After seeing more news on redundancies within organisations in our industry, trade comments and feedback, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on what seems to be an increasingly regular story when it comes to redundancies of agent-facing staff.

This year has been one of the toughest our industry has ever faced in my lifetime. Please let me be clear that in no way do I resent the businesses which are having to make difficult decisions when it comes to ‘restructuring’ or ‘re-sizing’, as it has been referred to.

We are hearing of the loss of roles of business development managers, sales managers, key account managers, trade sales representatives, and the list goes on.

On behalf of all of my industry counterparts, across all sectors and companies, one thing we have always had is passion for the brands we have worked for, and the ability to live and breathe the product and our company values. Bu above all else, we’ve shown loyalty.

So, to all directors and managing directors of all current travel business, I genuinely worry for brands are choosing to make their agent-facing staff the first to go in their cost-saving exercises.

In our roles, we work hard in making connections with travel agents to ensure we are the first person they think of when it comes to the product the brand sells. This includes long shifts on the road, attending numerous conferences, delivering training, hosting fam trips and much more. Beyond that, we are often referred to as the face of your brands, we are always adaptable and flexible in our approach to making sales for you.

I wouldn’t wish redundancies on anyone. However, as companies release their plans for mass job cuts it is apparent there are not enough redundancies being made in higher management positions.

As mentioned, we live and breathe your company values and fly the flag for your businesses, and some of us have done this for a long number of years. But in some cases, suppliers are removing 80% of frontline staff, which feels like we have all be hung out to dry.

You only have to refer to social media comments during the early stages of the furlough scheme from agents at the frustration regarding the lack of visibility of trade reps, who are usually their first point of contact when it comes to queries and support.

The grass roots are starting to shoot within in the industry and these relationships we have with agents need to be stronger than ever in order for your businesses to survive this crisis we find ourselves in. I strongly believe the owners of travel agencies will also agree having that strong relationship with a trade sales rep is invaluable to their businesses, and essential to help assist with growth after we come out of the other side of the economic impact of the pandemic. Our strength is the relationship between travel agencies and tour operators, and agencies will remember who looked after them during this time.

I know many of my counterparts in the industry feel the same way I do, and also question the loyalty shown to them from companies they worked for. We know the industry will bounce back, but will those relationships and loyalty that we have forged between your brand and the trade still be there?

Sadly, we won’t be there to find out.


Yours, ex-staff