Independent agents and operators came together at the weekend for the AITO Specialist Travel Agents domestic conference - held at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire.

The conference saw record numbers - more than 200 delegates - in attendance and the programme offered a mix of workshops and guest speakers addressing key industry matters.

 These included Andy Cohen, manager of ATOL Licensing at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), who updated delegates on the ATOL Reform process, and Lorraine Barnes Burton, CEO of The British Travel Awards, who reflected on what agents could learn from the results of the consumer insight survey, TravelVision 2012.

There was also an array of accolades awarded during the gala dinner at the conference, with Staffordshire-based Journeys à la Carte named the national winner of the AITO All Stars incentive scheme 2011, which recognises those AITO Agents who have achieved the best results when selling holidays offered by AITO operators. 

New AITO All Stars awards were also presented for the first time, with London-based Travel Designers picking up ‘Best Newcomer’ and Oxfordshire-based Full Circle Travel presented with the ‘Most Improved’ award for its successful sales in 2011.

The winners received top prizes from AITO operators, including holidays to Turkey with Anatolian Sky Holidays and to Tenerife with Classic Collection Holidays, a fam trip place to Russia with Cox & Kings, a night on the Blue Train in South Africa courtesy of Visions Holiday Group and a hamper of Japanese food and drinks from InsideJapan Tours.

Another key announcement at the conference saw the association’s chairman, Oliver Broad, reveal plans to launch a new glossy consumer travel magazine for exclusive, free distribution by AITO Agents members.

It was also announced that the association’s overseas conference will take place in Madeira from June 14-17.

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