Q&A: Joseph Grimley, head of agency sales, Riviera Travel

What does your role include and how long have you held it? 

Joseph Grimley

I have been in my role at Riviera Travel for just over five years. The role is responsible for managing sales through travel agents in the UK. I manage a team of five who support agents with training, marketing, branch visits, conferences, events and anything else we can do to help agents promote our products to their customers.

The role has developed significantly as initially I was working solo to launch agent distribution channel and was travelling around the country telling agents who Riviera Travel were and what we did.

These days I spend more time in the office planning strategies and managing the team, although I still like to get out regularly to visit agents and get their feedback, and keep my finger on the pulse at the ‘sharp end’.


What are your recent updates and plans for the next 12 months?

We have just launched our 2018 Escorted Touring programme and are supporting agents to promote these. Over the next 12 months we will be launching a new agent incentive scheme, ramping up the opportunities for agents to experience our products first hand and working on sustaining the momentum of growth we are experiencing.


What type of customer does Riviera Travel suit?

Our typical clients are mainly British retired, or semi-retired professional couples and singles. They have time on their hands and are financially secure. They are adventurous with their travel but like the fact that everything is thought through for them and they have the safety net of travelling as part of a group. They aren’t necessarily looking for the very best/most expensive hotels. They like to know they are getting good value for money with lots of inclusions in the price of their holidays.


How do you work with the travel trade – training, fam trips, incentives, ship visits etc?

We consider ourselves to be very trade-friendly. My background is in retail travel so when we launched the agent distribution channel we set out to be the go-to brand for travel agents who have customers 50+ looking for European and Worldwide escorted tours and river cruises.

We have online booking for agents on all of our products and online training modules. This year we have taken over 50 agents on visits to Cologne and Amsterdam to visit our brand new 5-star river cruise ships.

In November we are hosting over 150 agents at the CLIA River Cruise Convention in Amsterdam on the MS Emily Bronte. The ship was christened in February 2017 along with the MS Thomas Hardy. We ran a competition to choose two Godmothers for these ships which was just open to UK independent travel agents. The two lucky ladies were our VIP’s at the ceremony in Amsterdam.

In April 2017 we hosted agents on an exclusive fam trip to India to experience one of our ever popular tours to the country. We are also currently planning another fam trip for agents on the Rhine in October 2017.

Why should agents sell Riviera Travel?

We are now the UK market leaders in both overseas escorted tours and European river cruises, so agents can be safe in the knowledge that more Brits choose us for these holiday types than any of our competitors.

Our repeat booking ratio is second to none so one booking will lead to many repeats. We never discount so agents can keep all of their commission, and if a client does call us direct we will source them back to the agent where they picked up the brochure and pay the agent full commission.

Don’t just take my word for it. This year we have scooped a hat-trick of awards from the UK’s leading consumer champion, Which?. In February we were named ‘Best River’ in their annual cruise survey. In May we were named ‘Which? Travel Brand of the Year’, and in June we received one of only a few ‘Which? Recommended Provider’ awards in their annual ‘Holiday Companies’ survey.

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