Special Report: Atas Conference to showcase best of touring & adventure

The annual Atas showcase will return to Birmingham in October, with a face-to-face format and the theme of ‘Learn. Experience. Achieve.’

The Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers’ annual conference will return with a live event in October, helping agents to capitalise on the recovery of this lucrative sector.

The face-to-face event will be held at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre, which successfully hosted the annual conference in 2017 and 2018.

It will start with a welcome reception on the evening of Tuesday, October 19. That will be followed on Wednesday, October 20, with a busy agenda of conference sessions, a trade fair and an evening of celebrations.

With the theme of ‘Learn. Experience. Achieve.’, the conference will be the first opportunity since the pandemic for travel agents to meet, network face-to-face and learn about selling holidays in the touring and adventure sector.

As before, the conference is being held in association with Travel Weekly Group and sessions will be moderated by editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley.


Accessible venue

The 2019 Atas conference in Manchester followed the two conferences which each attracted more than 350 delegates to the ICC in Birmingham. The venue’s central location means that travel to the event will be convenient and easy for a wide range of travel agents and other delegates from across the UK.

The conference had been set to return to the Birmingham venue in October 2020 but the pandemic meant it had to be postponed.

However, the association was instead able to host a week-long virtual event last autumn to showcase opportunities, operators and destinations in the sector.

Atas has also maintained its commitment to training and support for agents and operator members by holding an awareness month in April followed by a myth-busting initiative in May.

The headline sponsor for the 2021 conference is Visit Portugal, a long-standing associate member and a staunch supporter of Atas.

Claire Brighton, account director for Atas, said: “I am so excited to announce a face-to-face event and I am really looking forward to meeting all our members in person.”

The conference will be organised in line with all appropriate health and safety measures and the latest government guidance.

Brighton added: “We also understand how travel agencies have face enormous financial pressures over the course of the pandemic – and many will continue to face challenges in the coming weeks and months – so we’re making sure that we can deliver this event with little or no cost to agents who attend.

“Agents can choose to arrive on October 19 and stay for two nights if they wish to join the welcome reception, or they can just come for the day and night on October 20 if time is tighter. We will be offering a range of packages to suit agent members’ different requirements.”


Hosted accommodation

“As always, agents will be hosted by us, with up to two nights’ accommodation available.

“The educational business sessions will give delegates practical tips and advice on how to increase their sales in the sector, along with reasons about why they should sell this lucrative product. And I’m sure there will be a great buzz around the venue as we meet existing industry contacts and make fresh connections – in real life rather than on Zoom.”

Claudia Miguel, UK director of Visit Portugal, said: “We want to position Portugal as a diverse country that has many different types of holiday to offer all year round.

“The main reason for joining Atas is to be able to contact with the UK trade and educate tour operators and travel agents about all the amazing products available in mainland Portugal, Madeira and Azores.”

Learn. Experience. Achieve.

Claire Brighton, account director for Atas, says: “Our new conference theme highlights how agents who attend will reap clear benefits – as well as having a very enjoyable time.

“The ‘Learn’ element demonstrates how agents can discover more about operators, holidays and destinations in the touring and adventure sector, along with ways it can be a key element of their business, especially as we all emerge and recover from the effects of the pandemic on our bottom line.

“The trade fair and our expert speakers will demonstrate tangible commercial benefits and give marketing advice for all budgets.

“The ‘Experience’ element highlights how the event will recreate elements of the excitement and discovery that clients will have on a touring or adventure holiday. Our experts will support agents with ideas about how they can help customers to really understand the experience.

“Finally, the ‘Achieve’ component refers to the wide range of sessions and trade fair stalls, plus the networking and educational opportunities at the conference, which mean agents can be assured of achieving more sales in the touring and adventure sector.”

‘Agents are ready to reconnect’

Brian Young, Atas chair and managing director of G Adventures, says: “All the feedback we have had from our agent members is that they are keen to reconnect and rebuild – we are all ready to be inspired and look towards resuming our growth trajectories.

‘Our virtual world has helped us to maintain partnerships over the past 14 months or so, but face-to-face networking with new and established business partners is crucial as travel restarts. The resilience of agents and Atas members to overcome the challenges of the past year has been heartening and I am sure the conference will be a must-attend event for all of us in the sector.”


About Atas

Atas brings together the best suppliers in the touring and adventure travel industry with a united aim to raise the sector’s profile and help travel agents develop their expertise and boost their sales.

As well as an annual conference, it hosts awareness and training events to support agents, as well as operators, destinations and suppliers. Earlier this year, it recruited eight experienced travel agents to form its Agent Advisory Group.

Furthermore, the Atas partnership with the Travel Weekly Group means the association benefits from extensive media coverage and shared expertise in events and training.

Register your interest now at touringandadventure.com