WTM: Club La Costa targets travel agent sales

, which owns 12 resorts around the world, has created a leisure division to sell its inventory through tour operators, online travel agencies and independent agents.

It is currently setting up XML feeds to OTAs and has already negotiated distribution through operators including Cosmos and Hoseasons.

New leisure division director Laurence Hicks, formerly of Norwegian Coastal Voyages and Inghams, also revealed the company would be launching its own tour operation in January called Club La Costa Holidays, to sell both direct and through agents, followed closely by an accommodation-only offering.

Hicks said: “Tour operators and OTAs are looking for new and exclusive stock in our destinations.? The specifications of our accommodation, which is all four and five star, tend to be higher because it’s been to individual owners’ requirements .

"This is inventory that isn’t owned by the vertically integrated boys and which hasn’t been available to the trade before, so we expect it to be snapped up like hotcakes.”

He said he would be looking for the leisure division, including the new tour operation, to do about £7million worth of business in year one, about 80% of which would come through tour operators and OTAs, 5% through independent agents and 15% direct.

Consultant Richard Carrick, former director at MyTravel and Hoseasons, added: “We need to build our trade profile. We believe independent agents will grab hold of these properties as they’ll be able to call them their own. At the moment, they can either buy from tour operator programmes, where the stock often isn’t exclusive, or from bed banks where it’s all a bit anonymous. This gives them something really exciting to work with.”

Hicks said the company would be targeting the consortia including Worldchoice, Advantage and Elite as well as homeworkers.

Club La Costa?is exhibiting at World?Travel Market 2011 with its ambassador for the brand, former Royal correspondant Jennie Bond. She said: “I love it there. I’ve been to half a dozen of their resorts and they are all wonderful. I like things to be really spot on and these are damn near perfect.”

Club La Costa World’s resorts are in the US, Tenerife, Scotland, Cornwall, Spain, Austria and Turkey.