He joins the luxury operator from ITC Travel Group where he spent seven years in agency sales positions, most recently as national relationship manager.
Hardcastle said the role is newly created at Elegant Resorts and one that will see him report directly to managing director Lisa Fitzell, a move he said proved how important the operator now views agents as a key channel.
Fitzell said: “A key component of our strategy is to expand and develop our trade business for 2019 and beyond.
"By bringing Jon on board into this new role, we are underpinning our commitment to the trade, which will also be demonstrated via our new white label marketing strategy, incentives, fam trips and luxury events throughout the year.”
Hardcastle starts in the role today, but said it was too soon to reveal exact details of how the operator planned to grow agent business.
“The fact this is a senior management position, though, shows how important Lisa thinks agents are to the business, and it’s been clear to me that everyone across the business sees the potential as well now – more so than in the past I think,” said Hardcastle.
“I feel like we’re on the verge of something quite special and I really want to get Elegant Resorts on the map with more agents across the country.
"I appreciate luxury is a crowded market from the operator perspective, but I know how great the team at Elegant are and what they can do for clients, and I can’t wait to get that in front of agents.”
Hardcastle has been in the travel industry for 24 years, including 13 with Gold Medal and Pure Luxury before ITC, as well as spending four years as a retail agent at the start of his career.
“I can empathise with agents and understand both sides of the business; I understand the challenges they face – above all, what we want to do from Elegant’s perspective is to make them look great to their clients.”
ITC Travel Group’s director of agency sales Lee Marshall said Hardcastle “leaves as a friend of the business” and added that he hoped to be able to announce a new recruit to ITC’s agency team “very soon”.
Elegant Resorts’ former agency sales manager Jo-Anne Fenton left the business last year, and has since taken a position as brand ambassador with Elite Travel Concierge.
The new brand “plugs into” ITC for its product and bonding, but was previously a direct-sell business before Fenton’s arrival.
Meanwhile, Elegant Resorts is about to launch three new brochures – Beach + Beyond, Family Adventures and Luxury by Design – which will be available to agents.