Audley Travel targets increase in bookings through agents

Audley Travel wants 5%-10% of its sales to come through the trade in the next two to three years.

Chief executive Nick Longman revealed just 2% of bookings came though agents when he joined in 2018, and said even that was “pretty much by default”.

But he said: “It was clear there was a group of people that we weren’t reaching, hence the appointment of Greg Thurston from A&K in 2020.”

Explaining that agents were able to drive business from customers whose needs they were familiar with, he added: “Trade business is already at 3%-4% now. It’s never going to be 50%, but if we can get it to between 5%-10% of everything we do in the next two to three years, that will be great as the conversion rates through agents are really strong.

“The trade will be a really good channel for us going forward.”

Audley has introduced a tiered loyalty scheme for the trade called the A-List. Longman said agents booking £50,000 of business between June 1 this year and March 2023 automatically join the scheme’s ‘Preferred group’, while those booking £100,000 join its ‘Elite group’.

He said there were different levels of incentives and support for each tier, and revealed the specialist would be running a fam trip for Elite agents.

Longman also vowed to help agents clinch Audley bookings.

“Consultations for our tailor-made holidays sometimes take a couple of hours,” he said.

“If agents haven’t got time for this, they can pass their client on to us and we’ll have the conversation and sort the holiday and they will still earn the commission. Or maybe they would prefer to do more of the work themselves. [We’re happy with] whatever works best for them.

“We have pledged we won’t contact any clients that come through an agent directly. And there is total price parity now.”

Longman added that Audley had consolidated all its programmes from 26 brochures to one during the pandemic.
“We now have one brochure that covers 50 destinations,” he added.

“In fact, it moves away from destinations and focuses on specialists and guides. It was impractical to try and service agents with 26 brochures so this works much better.”

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