Scott Dunn mulls UK agency sales after US expansion

Luxury tour operator Scott Dunn is to consider selling via the UK trade after it goes on sale with American agents for the first time as part of “rapid growth” plans in the US.

Chief executive Sonia Davies said the brand plans to open an office in New York in August and is “looking at” working with UK agents once it is established.

The moves follow the acquisition of Scott Dunn by Flight Centre Travel Group for more than £120 million in February.

Scott Dunn US currently has about 40 staff in its office in San Diego, California, which opened in 2016.

The new premises will be in Manhattan, New York, initially with eight staff relocationg from Scott Dunn’s offices in London, Singapore, and San Diego.

Davies plans to double the size of the team within a year through local recruitment.

The US expansion is the result of growth following the post-pandemic boom in travel, with increased demand from existing clients and new customers.

US turnover in January was 60% up from January 2019.

Davies said: “Our growth plan is ambitious as we recognise the considerable opportunities in the US.

“Our presence in New York will allow us to spend more time with our guests in-person, as well as opening sales and marketing opportunities.”

She added: “We’ve been working incredibly hard on our marketing and raising our brand awareness in the US, which has definitely been attracting more people to think about using us and we’ve seen great conversion of that demand.”

Davies said selling via agents will be part of Scott Dunn US’s growth strategy as agency sales comprise a “significant” portion of the American market.

The company had worked with some agents in the UK in the past, particularly with its chalet programme, which ended in 2020.

“As we have become part of a group which has agents, we are looking at [UK trade sales],” she said.

“We do get knocks on the door very regularly, so we are looking at options within the group but also outside of the group – both independents as well as in consortia.

“Agents are incredible at what they do and there is a lovely opportunity to blend their skill-set with what Scott Dunn can bring.

“At the moment, our big growth push is in the US.”

She said the new ownership gives Scott Dunn a chance to look at its “next chapter”.

“The Flight Centre group has been incredibly supportive of helping us step back and think about how we want to take the next chapter forward,” she said.

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