Trafalgar has set its sights on the UK becoming its third largest outbound travel market, with travel agent collaborations at the forefront of its plans.
Speaking to Travel Daily recently, Trafalgar’s CEO Gavin Tollman said the UK is currently its smallest sales market but would like to see it as successful, in fact more, than areas where it is already bigger such as the US, Australia and South Africa.
The work is already underway following The Travel Corporation’s decision to split its teams for Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Contiki in the UK.
Julie Brooker joined as sales manager in July from Virgin Holidays, which led to an audit of its product and way of working.
“For the trade it was a huge step forward in the right direction and showed our commitment to agents. Our changes have been driven by the strength and viability of the UK trade,” said Tollman. “First it’s been the team itself with Julie and another three sales managers, then the second important part has been with marketing material and making sure we have the right collateral and tools specifically around the UK market.
“The third area has been with our product. When Julie joined us from Virgin we did a detailed review and spoke to partners, and the result is that our product offering in the UK is now exclusively based on what they told us.”
It’s this collaborative approach with agents that Tollman says the operator will continue to use moving forward.
Baxter added: “We completely understand our agent partners; what their repeat guests are looking for and what’s in it for the agents too. We have to understand how we can grow with them and we know they all work differently, so we have to provide the tools that fits their business model.”
Standing out as innovators
UK sales are already said to be up ‘exponentially’ following the early work, but Tollman recognises it has to work harder now to prove its innovation and differentiation in the market.
“Some of our competition have jumped onto what we were doing five years ago back in 2010, and a lot of companies are screwing it up. They are simply taking the existing inclusions and rebranding it with a sexy marketing campaign. It works, but Trafalgar built this from the ground up and we have the experience of physically knocking on people’s doors and sourced things ourselves; it’s not a marketing message for us but something that we deliver,” he said.
Tollman added: “We know we have a problem now though as we’ve transformed the industry but Trafalgar is thought of as just old people on buses but that is not the case.”
To overcome this the operator has signed up Feefo to show unaudited reviews on its website next to its tours. Tollman believes that for any travel agent this is the most effective tool that they can use.
“It’s the most powerful tool for the trade because they can flip the screen over to a customer and show what others have been saying, and if they do that their conversion will go up as that’s how people are buying,” he said.