Q&A – Hisham Mahmoud – Bright Chairman

What is Bright about and how did it start?

The Bright idea was conceived at a conference in Spain 15 years ago. Four suppliers were sitting around the hotel lounge talking about how cost effective it would be to hold product training events together for the independent travel trade.

Hisham Mahmoud
Hisham Mahmoud

The four suppliers were very small and could not afford to hold big training events on their own and since none of them were conflicting they decided they should team up with a few other similar suppliers to start a small group.

The purpose was to meet independent travel agents after work to introduce them to their product or simply update them if they already worked together in 10/15 minute sessions. This way they could meet between 30-50 independent travel agents in one evening in different regions around the UK followed by dinner.

Upon returning to the UK the four recruited another three operators and so Bright was born (Bright – Bringing Real Information and Guaranteed High quality Training) Longwinded however it still stands for what we do.

What is the criteria for membership?

We have always had a non-conflicting membership and the criteria has never changed. It’s also the most difficult one to maintain in terms of attracting new membership. The decisions are all made together so we can’t have operators who are conflicting otherwise decisions will be very hard to come by….., in this way we also maintain a very happy family and work together as a team.

Today Bright is a small but perfectly formed team of specialist tour operators, I believe this criteria is what makes the group the success it is today.

What do you do to keep Bright relevant in the digital age?

The Bright training template is more relevant today than ever before, with so much information online and many companies opting for the digital training programmes, Bright specialist operators find it more beneficial meeting independent agents face to face and simplifying the message.

To complete an online training programme an agent would need to put time aside while working to complete the training, while at the Bright evenings we meet our independent agent partners in a relaxed environment where clients are not walking in nor are the phones going off.

This is a far more effective way for the Bright members although most of the membership have had online training modules. We all need an online presence in the digital age however the members prefer the human element. We believe the two work hand in hand.

 

How do agents benefit from attending a Bright event?

Agents get to meet the people who are employed to support them. A face to face meetings builds a closer relationship, apart from being educated on the specialist products, the agent now has the right Agency Sales contact details should they need urgent help with a matter. They can organise product training at the travel agency, marketing support can be obtained, Fam trip places offered and more importantly the agent and the specialist operator are able to share business development ideas. Bright is not only about training but is also about sharing and helping each other go forward.

 

What are your future plans?

We continue to evolve, we are always looking at new ways to help our independent travel agents – we have a few that are in that pipeline I am not able to reveal yet.

We are currently developing our website. It will still be a presence website as we want agents to be able to get simple answers about all the members, events dates, venues and information on the membership. It’s also going to be a bit more proactive, however to get the full Bright benefits agents will still need to attend our events or email our members/pick up the phone and speak to us.

How do you judge the value of your workshops on behalf of your members?

We have different ways of gauging our success. We always send a survey after an event to all the attendees. The average rating is 90% excellent, amazing how the simplest formats in life work.

The other way is to ask members on how beneficial the meetings have been for them, how many have converted to a relationship or bookings. They easily gauge how their attendance of the events have increased their independent travel agent business.
We believe in the digital age with so much information being loaded online, human guidance is going to be needed more than ever and Bright is here to help independent travel agents and its members achieve that.

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