Touring and adventure sector is ‘massive commission opportunity’

Touring and adventure holidays offer agents a “massive commission-earning opportunity” as travel recovers from the effects of the pandemic.

That was the message from speakers at the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) conference, held last month in Birmingham.

Giles Hawke (pictured), chief executive of Cosmos, told delegates about research conducted among customers of Atas members, and highlighted the huge earning potential for agents specialising in the touring and adventure sector.

He said: “Nearly 35% of customers take four or more holidays a year and two-thirds take three or more. This is a massive commission-earning opportunity as well as a way to keep those customers as yours for their whole holiday portfolio.

“Many customers will do a touring holiday, a short break and maybe a cruise in the same year – don’t pigeonhole them.”

He urged agents to look at their existing databases and see what customers take those types of holidays.

“You can cross-sell between these different holiday types for the rest of your customers’ lives,” he advised.

Atas chairman Brian Young – EMEA managing director at G Adventures – told delegates: “Before the pandemic, the adventure and touring sector was one of the fastest-growing in the travel industry.

“While the pandemic has been devastating for everyone, it has also posed a bigger opportunity than ever for all of us in this room.

“Travel has been taken away and travellers are looking to really make the most of their next holiday experience.

“I have never been more excited about a sector in our industry than I am about the touring and adventure market right now.

“The vast majority of suppliers in this room will tell you that the repeat rate is way higher than that of a package or cruise holiday so you stand to gain a customer for life – but you need to get engaged in the sector.”

Claire Brighton, Atas account director, told agents that the average booking with an Atas supplier was worth more than £7,500 – which would earn agents at least £900 in commission.

Account managers from MailMetroMedia also presented “positive” survey findings at the conference, taken from research conducted among 700 readers of newspapers such as The Daily Mail and The Telegraph.

Robertina Tompa, MailMetroMedia travel account manager, told the conference: “Changes in regulations have increased confidence and will encourage more people to book.

“Long-haul holidays are definitely coming back, especially Australia and New Zealand.

“Bucket list destinations are back for 2022.”

She said the findings indicated a return to a more normal holiday calendar in 2022, with people taking short breaks in the spring and longer holidays in the summer.

“There are definite signs of recovery,” she told delegates.

Her fellow travel account manager Sam Conway said current financial concerns are mostly among those aged under 55 and older consumers – who tend to book more tours – are less affected by economic worries.

However, operators agreed that a key challenge would be scaling back up to pre-pandemic levels, while still supporting agents and other partners.

Liam Race, chief executive of the Leger Shearings Group, said there would be “growing pains” as the operator returns to running European tours, with a target of 50,000-60,000 passengers in 2022.

Phil Hullah, chief executive at Riviera Travel, agreed that “operational scaling” was the main challenge, saying Riviera was targeting 100,000 passengers next year.

Furthermore, Zina Bencheikh, EMEA managing director of Intrepid Travel, highlighted the overseas recruitment hurdles, commenting: “People who left the travel industry, such as guides in destinations, went to new jobs and suppliers have shut down.”

About 250 agents attended the face-to-face conference in Birmingham and the total delegate numbers of 350 made it the biggest yet from Atas.

Picture of Giles Hawke by Steve Dunlop Photographer.