Dnata Travel Group UK chief plans more fam trips for Gold Medal

Dnata Travel Group’s UK chief executive aims to hold more Gold Medal events and fam trips for agents to build on the brand’s trade relationships.

Lesley Rollo also intends to capitalise on the benefits of being part of dnata and its parent, the Emirates Group.

She took on the chief executive role in February, having been with dnata for almost five years as managing director of Travelbag. Before that, Rollo was long-haul managing director for Travelopia.

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“I am very, very pleased to be back working with agents,” she told a Travel Weekly webcast, noting how travel agents’ expertise is ever more important.

She was speaking during the dnata Travel Group UK B2B brands’ ‘Big Day Out’ in Chester, with 70 agents and 25 suppliers enjoying golf, activities, networking events and learning about products.

“Gold Medal is an incredibly successful brand and it is purely built around those agents and the relationships we have,” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the road; it’s great to have that other perspective. When you have an agent business, they are your eyes and ears on the ground.

“If you’re just purely focused on B2C, sometimes you can get quite insular in your views of what’s happening in the market.”

She said more events and fams are being planned to enable agents to network with the dnata staff with whom they work.

“We mix it up. Some of these people might never have met, but they’ve spoken on the phone for years, so we send them off somewhere,” she said.

Rollo said there will “definitely” be more fam trips, to “keep augmenting what we do”.

“We’re offering more educational places than we’ve ever done next year,” she said.

Furthermore, fam trips for the other B2B brands – Incredible journeys, Pure Luxury and Cruise Plus – are important.

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“We want to make sure that people get to experience those products [as it] may have been more difficult in the past to send someone on a tour and take tailor-made trip but we definitely want to get those experiences out to everybody in the trade,” she said.

Rollo also aims to capitalise on the benefits of being part of the Emirates group and dnata, for the four B2B brands and the B2C operations that she oversees: travel agency Travelbag, flight-only specialist Netflights and online travel agency Travel Republic. It also has a majority stake in Imagine Cruising.

Rollo said the group has invested in Travel Republic over the past couple of years to improve the online experience.

“Strategically, we focus more on being part of the Emirates group and Dnata,” she added.

“It’s more and more long haul now. That reinforces our position; to and through Dubai is one of our big goals.”

She also highlighted the value of Netflights: “It is really important to have that brand for us a group because it really fuels our airline purchasing strategy.

“It gives us the scale that we need to negotiate with some the key airline partners.”

Rollo added: “For a long time, we’ve operated as individual brands, which is the right thing to do…but we have huge benefits being part of dnata and Emirates,” she said.

“It is trying to get that balance between having the identity of a brand but showing the real value of being part of that group.

“When you acquire businesses over the years, all with different technologies, different identities and different sets of staff cultures, it does take a while to consolidate where you need to [and] to be more efficient.

“We are still on that journey to certain respects in terms of aligning our technologies.

“With the breadth we’ve got at the moment, I think we’ve got a big job to do just to grow from where we are now, a huge opportunity without necessarily having to acquire.”

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