Bucking the trend in the loss of High Street agenciesAdvantage chief executive, John McEwan, revealed to delegates at its annual conference that the consortium had lost fewer agencies since 2005 compared to rival consortia, and that it has been “bucking the trend' of retail travel with a 9% loss of locations compared with an overall loss 24% of High Street shops, which fell from 8,000 to 6,000 since 2005.
According to statistics released by BP marketing services, McEwan claimed that Global Travel Group lost 54% of shops and Worldchoice has 42 % fewer outlets.
He said: “I think this is because we have the strongest position for independent agents. We enjoy the best in commercial terms.” Last year Advantage had a £3.5billion turnover including £2.5billion of leisure sales and £1billion from corporate business.
McEwan said “We are the largest retail travel company in the UK by far.”
Meanwhile, Julia LoBue-Said, leisure director at Advantage told delegates that a cruise platform will be added to its Gateway system this year as a major drive on cruise sales. The platform will be free for members and will feature all major cruise lines, ship itineraries, content and deck plans. The Advantage Travel Gateway system, which was launched at last year's conference, is currently being tested by 140 agents before being rolled out to all members. It aims to provide a 'one-stop travel solution', enabling members to book package holidays, schedule, charter and low-cost flights. Insurance and tours will also be added later this year. In other news the consortia will also hold its first Cruise Champions conference this September.
Mark Rowe, head of marketing at Advantage, found that following a survey of 30 members, just 20% of business comes from repeat bookings. As a result, Rowe outlined plans to refocus marketing efforts on existing customers. The findings also revealed that 71% of bookings came in three months before departure, 46% within a month and 26% within two weeks.
John Sullivan, head of commercial at Advantage told delegates that cruise holidays sales through its outlets increased 44% last year, increasing the amount of commission by £13million from the previous year, with this year's commission figure being £42million.
Luxury holiday commission was also up £1million from the previous year to £18million - an increase in sales of 12%.
Sullivan revealed that the average commission on luxury holidays was 13% and 14% for cruises and that overall commission had been maintained.