Exsus Travel’s trade sales soar to 85% of business

Specialist tour operator Exsus Travel has revealed agent sales now make up 85% of its total business – four years after it officially launched to the trade. 

The London-based company, which has been operating for more than 20 years, was previously mostly direct-sell and worked with agents on an ad hoc basis.

The tailormade specialist hired former If Only head of sales Neil Sealy in June 2018 to spearhead its trade launch, with Sealy initially forecasting agent sales to represent 20% of the operator’s overall revenue by the end of the first year.

Speaking at the Exsus Travel Agent Awards in London on September 30, managing director Habib Rehman said: “Agents now count for 85% of our business and this is only after the second full year of working with the trade [due to the pandemic].

“As a result, Exsus has grown from a £4 million company to a £15 million company literally overnight and it's still growing. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and business. Without you, clearly none of this would have been possible. All our growth has come entirely from agents trusting us with their business, and I'm humbled by it.”

Rehman said the operator’s trade strategy was ongoing, with agents remaining “at the centre of everything we do”.

He said: “[I said when we launched that] it really mattered to us that when we approached the trade we [could] be really confident in delivering in all prospects. We won't do anything that risks agents losing the relationship with their clients. Striving to constantly improve is at the heart of everything we do. Those sentiments remain as true today as when they were made.”

He added: “I have a finance background and I've worked in the city [where there is] a reputation for hard work and long hours. I think the travel industry doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I've never experienced the kind of work ethic, passion and attitude to client service in any other industry, including the city. As a tour operator, I was really impressed by how you as travel agents dealt with this pandemic.”

The Exsus Travel Agent Awards brought together more than 60 agents from across the UK, with 12 awards given out to the operator’s top-performing advisors during a lunch at Shangri-La The Shard, London.

The top honours of the day went to Designer Travel, which was recognised as the operator’s Top Travel Agency 2022, and Not Just Travel, which won the gong for Fastest Growth in Business 2022. 

The event marked the second of its kind for the tour operator following a smaller awards lunch for 25 agents in 2019.

Sealy said: “Events beyond our control stopped it from being an annual event at that point in time, but here we are, we're back three years later, much bigger and better than ever before.”

Image: The Exsus Travel team at the Exsus Travel Agent Awards. Credit: Exsus Travel

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