Confirmed visits include Kenya, Turkey, Paris and Spain, with Japan and the Galapagos also under consideration as destinations this year. Each trip is expected to have 12-20 places available.
Simon Lynch, director of sales for A&K, said: “We want to get more agents out travelling with us and experiencing the A&K product on the ground, so we’ve trebled the budget for 2019.”
The move is part of a greater focus on the trade from A&K, Lynch explained, adding that the operator plans to run a number of incentives for places on the educationals, as well as rolling out improvements to its agent rewards programme.
A&K will also automatically track agents’ sales and plans to send monthly updates on their progress.
“It’s quite a big change for us in terms of our approach with the trade, and we’re looking for double-digit growth in 2019 from agencies,” Lynch said.
Mark Harris, formerly of Wendy Wu Tours, and Diogo Castanheira, who was previously at Hainan Airlines, recently joined the A&K sales team tasked with improving relationships with agents.
“Mark and Diogo have been great additions to the team and the response to them has been really exciting,” Lynch said. “They will be doing a whole series of luxury dinners and events around the country… there’s going to be a lot more activity with the trade.”
Meanwhile, despite the potential difficulties posed by Brexit, Lynch said he remains upbeat about prospects in the travel industry in 2019.
“It’s not a ‘same old, same old’ for us this year, we’re really upping our efforts,” he said. “I don’t think 2019 is going to be a normal year for us and for the trade, I think it’s going to be a really exciting growth year.”