Grand UK Holidays reaps benefits of focus on travel agents

Grand UK Holidays has seen its proportion of trade sales almost double thanks to a new member of staff being tasked with supporting travel agents.

The mature holidays specialist said bookings via agents accounted for 10% of sales in 2023, having been as high as 30% in previous years. So far this year, agent sales have accounted for 19% of bookings.

Abi Charter, sales and marketing manager at parent company The UK Holiday Group (UKHG), said the growth has come after the appointment last year of Lyn Arnold as offline marketing lead and tasking her with trade sales.

She has been visiting agents across the south and east of England to help with training and raising awareness about the brand’s coach tours, river cruises and solos holidays.

“It’s great to see all the hard work paying off,” said Charter.

“We have made an investment in our agents through Lyn’s role changing to undertake the business development role with travel agents.

“Travel agents are so important to us. Their knowledge, expertise and service are what keeps their customers coming back time and time again.

“We want to provide support for agents, from brochure ordering to window cards, and special offers to drive sales.

“It’s why we’ve invested in Lyn and her visits to branches, offering that friendly face and point of contact.”

The travel agency portal on the Grand UK Holidays website has also been made more user-friendly, enabling agents to find single-room availability and pick-up points more easily.

Arnold had previously worked in the UKHG accounts department and left to run her own successful catering business – and completed a CIM diploma in marketing.

When she was widowed and sold her business, UKHG managing director Paul Bennett invited her to return to the Norwich-based company.

“He wanted her to use her people skills to build and develop travel agent relationships,” said Charter.

“Lyn has absolutely loved this opportunity.”

Arnold has visited 41 agencies so far this year, bringing with her chocolate biscuits, pens and brochures, and talking about products and deals.

She accompanied Charter recently to meet branch managers from the East of England Co-op Travel at the chain’s head office in Ipswich.

The operator is also working on a joint marketing initiative with Premier Travel, speaking to branch managers via Zoom and creating window cards and social media content for the East Anglian chain.

Grand UK Holidays has issued two versions of its latest brochure to reflect the different departure regions it now offers.

It has divided its 230 local pick-up points into two separate departure areas, which means fewer coach stops for clients on the way to their destination.

One set of brochures features Area A, with tours departing from East Anglia, the East Midlands and northern Home Counties, while the other brochures offer Area B, with trips departing from the Home Counties, London and southern England.

It means that agents’ customers will be able to go on every tour featured within their region’s brochure.

Picture from left: Abi Charter, sales and marketing manager; Rhona Marshall, digital marketing lead; Lyn Arnold, offline marketing lead.

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