Growth in cruise and core destinations such as the US has helped Gold Medal and Travel 2 grow sales by 3% this year – despite a softness in touring sales.
Managing director Lisa McAuley said revenue, passenger numbers and average booking value were up across both brands, year-to-date, while forward bookings for 2019 were 13% ahead of the same point last year.
“We’re not seeing a Brexit impact – or not yet,” she said. “Cruise is the outstanding success story – and by putting luxury, expedition and river cruise into a separate brochure, we hope to drive it even further.”
However, she admitted touring sales had been soft.
“I think part of it is price-point related, due to currency fluctuations, but I also genuinely believe the word ‘touring’ has limited appeal, “ she told TTG. “It’s a bit like ‘cruise’ – it draws negative connotations for some.
“The trade is eager to sell more touring, but I just don’t think the consumer demand is there at the moment.”
Improvements are to be made to the documentation provided by both brands, following feedback from more than 800 agent partners.
“Agents told us that price and service were the two most important factors in choosing a tour operator, and the research showed they have a really positive perception about Gold Medal and Travel 2 on both those elements, but our documentation is a pinch-point,” she admitted.
Introducing customer satisfaction scoring at the end of phone calls has also improved service.
“The vast majority of scores are positive, but if there is a negative one the team leader can call that agent straight away and find out what went wrong,” McAuley explained.
Travel 2’s agent reward scheme, T2 Rewards, is also moving to a new platform that will make it easier for agents to redeem points, before the onset of peaks in January.
McAuley added that she expects Gold Medal and Travel 2 to offer a similar number of agent fam places in 2019 as this year, when more than 350 agents were taken overseas. But she revealed trips will have a greater “purpose” in future.
“I’d like to see them being more educational, not just to experience what the destination has to offer, but also help agents better engage with us, or learn how to run their business better, such as a social media master class to create content on-location.”