Andy Stark Global conferenceAs the Global Travel Group approaches its 25th year of operation, the consortium reported that it has welcomed 33 new members and has seen bookings up by 16% at its conference earlier this week at Spain's La Manga Club.

Andy Stark, MD of TGTG, said: “It's a good and sustainable product. There's a lot of desire out there from entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses and we've clearly got it right in the products and the services we provide. We continue to change and evolve throughout the years and, even through difficult times, it’s still a good option for people to move into travel.”

Although the consortium traditionally welcomes new people into the travel industry, it has seen an increasing trend in its membership over the last 18 months of more experienced travel professionals.
Explaining this rise, Stark said: “We've seen a real step change with professionals and travel agents that probably have worked for bigger organisations wanting to have a go and start for themselves. They have the knowledge but may just need that helping hand and support which we can offer.”

To reflect this growth, more training courses are now being offered - not only for those new to the industry, but ‘refresher’ courses and workshops tailor-made to suit the needs of more experienced travel agents.
Stark also told delegates that the desire for consumers to spend on holidays remained strong and highlighted how Brits are increasingly opting to holiday in the Western Mediterranean, central areas of Europe and Portugal as well as Italy and Croatia.

Also noted was the opportunity for travel agents to capitalise on the attractive fares offered on long-haul destinations. He said: “Traditionally, going long-haul was always seen as expensive but holidaymakers can now fly to Dubai for anything between £350-£400 return. The pricing from a schedule perspective is great from a consumer’s point of view; it’s competitive pricing and there's a load of value there. Agents should definitely be highlighting to clients how flying long-haul is cheaper than it has ever been before.”

Stark wrapped up by telling attendees about the need for, and the opportunities available, to travel agents in today’s market saying: “We've had a record year including new businesses into TGTG and that can only tell you one thing; we are getting more travel agents joining us and that's certainly on the increase. I don't see any slowdown in the need for face-to-face travel agents.

“The more complex a holiday, the more advice customers will need: a holiday might involve travelling to an airport they've never been to with their family, airport changes, going to a different country where they might not know the language and a different currency - just having the comfort and somebody to speak to is immensely important and I see that as a ripe opportunity for agents.”

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