Atas agents told to prepare for busy peaks

Agents at the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) conference have been told to expect a strong peaks period as the touring and adventure sector continues its recovery.

About 250 agents attended the face-to-face conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (October 20), and the delegate total of 350 made it the biggest yet from Atas.

Liam Race, chief executive of the Leger Shearings Group, said his company is focused on educating agents as travel recovers, so they are prepared for the traditionally busy sales period around New Year.

“I feel it will be a big peaks; it may not be at 2019 levels but there will be a strong January and February,” he said.

“[Covid] case numbers are rising, which could affect things but over the last 14 weeks we have had consistent trading.”

He said the operator will launch a new TV advertising campaign on December 20 which will reference agents, and start a campaign with the Daily Mail.

“We are investing heavily in marketing,” he told delegates at the International Convention Centre.

Phil Hullah, Riviera Travel chief executive, said his company will be “on the front foot with marketing messages”.

The messages will “fundamentally be about the holiday destination” he added.

He also highlighted how the role of travel agents is becoming even more important amid the complexity of overseas travel, commenting: “Customers value that experience, advice and support.”

Opening the conference, Atas chairman Brian Young – EMEA managing director at G Adventures – told delegates: “We are no longer niche operators, this is a grown-up sector going places and fast.

“We will grow so, as agents, you need to get on the front foot.

“Our style of travel plays perfectly into the evolving nature of traveller behaviour.”

Robertina Tompa, MailMetroMedia travel account manager, told the conference about the positive findings of a survey carried out by the media group among 700 of its readers.

She said: “Spending on big ticket items is in flux, however travel remains strong and people are buying longer duration holidays.

“Changes in regulations have increased confidence and will encourage more to book.”

Atas account director Claire Brighton told delegates that the association is introducing several new services for agents, including a dedicated training week from December 6-10 to help the trade in the pre-peaks period.