Private equity experts have agreed in-person travel selling will play a role in the future – despite increased online capability.
Speaking at Abta’s virtual Travel Convention, BDO’s Peter Hemington asked his panel: “Is there a future for advice delivered face to face by a travel agent on the high street?”
Daniel Smith, partner at private equity firm Livingbridge, which has a majority stake in Loveholidays and previously invested in On the Beach, said: “Businesses should interact with their customers in the way their customers want to interact with them.
“There have been, and continue to be, people who want to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation about their holiday.
“So there should be businesses out there that serve them.”
However, he added: “What’s happened now is the whole population has been forced to understand what you can do online.
“People will now have adjusted what they use face-to-face and online and different things for. It will all have shifted a bit. It would be interesting to see how that cohort feels now.”
Harry Stoakes, partner at BDO, added: “If it wasn’t for Trailfinders and Kuoni, I would strongly disagree with you [Daniel].
“Trailfinders – £800 million sales, 15% gross margin for what was once quite a flight-led business, but is now very profitable, and has a clear part of the market.”