Last week’s Elite conference, which took place on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, saw the consortium’s chairman, Wayne Darrock, welcome delegates to the annual event with a strong message of raising standards.Darrock said that during these times of having to manage change and uncertainty, brought about by ash clouds, BA strikes, a new government etc, members must have the ability to adapt to change and work together for support.
He said: “Communication is key; remember knowledge is often the key to a sale.”
Darrock also urged members to be forward thinking in their approach and to embrace technology, including the use of social networking sites. The consortium will soon be revealing a new IT bundle, alongside Elite Trends and Elite Negotiator tools to help with marketing and show sales details.
During a question and answer session while docked at Le Havre port, having cruised from Southampton, a panel of members were asked if they still tailormake following the recent ash cloud problems.
Kent Milne from Select World Travel said: “We're still going to tailormake as that's where we make our margins. We had no hiccups.”
Paul Dayson, managing partner at Spa Travel said that following the ash crisis, customers who want to tailormake holidays are being asked to sign a declaration to protect the firm from liability should the ash cloud emerge again. Marion Owen of Marion Owen Travel, said: “From a cruising perspective, we tend to stay away from tailormaking as there's a risk of clients missing a connection to the cruise.”
When the panel was asked about the most effective way to keep in touch with clients, responses included a combination of calling clients following the holiday, maildrops, e-blasts, functions, charity roadshows and updating Websites.
Meanwhile, addressing a question on how Elite views its relationship with Advantage, and in response to a point raised on whether or not Elite can see a future integration with Advantage, the consortium’s chairman, Wayne Darrock, said: “From the outset it has been a commercial relationship. We're still here and still doing our own conferences. We have a great relationship and members have benefitted financially in particular.
“If we think there will be a mutual benefit on something then we'll work together. If not, then we won't.”
However, Sally Carrick, Elite director said the conference could merge with Advantage's after next year. She said: "Who knows what might happen in 2012? Never say never."
It was made clear to delegates that the decision to have a joint conference would be one made by members.
Next year’s conference will be held in Jersey at the Hotel de France in St Helier, from September 30 to October 3 and will be hosted by Preston Holidays and the Jersey Tourist Board.