Audley Travel is starting to see the rewards of last year’s strategy change to work with agents.
Previously focused on a direct-sell model, Audley took on Greg Thurston in January 2020 with an agency sales remit, and despite something of a pause last year, the operator is now seeing a positive uptick in trade business.
Thurston said there was a “lot of positive feeling in the market” from agents, who are even driving up average booking value, with Audley experiencing a “pretty phenomenal March”.
“There are some great high-end, high-value bookings coming in via agents, to the extent that average booking value from them is twice what it is from our direct customers,” he said. “We’ve had some incredible bookings from agents, including some unusual ones for Antarctica, and a £100,000 luxury trip to the US.”
Audley, which now has offices in Boston, London and Witney in Oxfordshire, is now seeing agents contribute to 9% of overall sales, versus less than 2% when Thurston initially joined.
“Granted, we’re only a few months into the year, but it’s looking very positive,” he said. “We had been doing a fair bit already to let agents know we wanted to work with them, but hadn’t really managed to get the plan fully into fruition because of Covid, so to see this level of interest already has been great, and there are still so many things we want to do.”
He said agents seemed to value Audley’s reputation, expertise and the level of flexibility it offers. “Audley Travel is a really well-known brand, and agents may even have had clients who booked directly with us, so all this is giving them the confidence to recommend us to their high-value clients,” Thurston said.