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Flying a flag for the top agents

Gold Medal and Travel 2 is the sponsor of our UK & Ireland’s No.1 Agency category, which will be bestowed upon the single branch or agency that gained the very best scores. Boss Andy Freeth explains why

Andy Freeth, managing director of Gold Medal and Travel 2

WHY WAS GOLD MEDAL AND TRAVEL 2 KEEN TO BE INVOLVED IN TTG’S TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES? Gold Medal and Travel 2 only sell via travel agents, making them our only customers, so we seize any opportunity to celebrate the success

of those agents. I love that the judges visit and interview nominees, understanding their business models to enable them to make informed decisions as to who, from all the outstanding nominees, deserves to win each award. It is so important these innovative, hard-working agents are rewarded and these awards do just that, so we are delighted to support.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING TO SUPPORT AGENTS YOURSELF THIS YEAR? Gold Medal and Travel 2 merged our key account management teams, allowing focus on smaller geographical areas to provide a

greater level of support including training, agency visits, marketing support, cascading of offers and high-value incentives, as well as updating on product ranges. Last year, we took 500 agents on fam trips – more than ever before – including the inaugural “FAMtastic” trip, which brought more than 40 agents together for the trip of a lifetime. Additionally, we have enhanced our brochure portfolios, with Gold Medal now offering a dedicated Africa brochure within the portfolio of 11 titles and Travel 2 adding dedicated Cruise and Luxury Touring brochures. Indeed, all brochured properties now have a minimum Trip Advisor rating of 4/5.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO ANYONE WHO SAYS HIGH STREET RETAILERS ARE A DYING BREED? A good travel agent will always have a place in this industry. They offer invaluable knowledge and expertise, personal experience and impeccable service, and we all know time is becoming a more scarce and valued resource for many. And I’ve not even mentioned

the peace of mind and financial protection that booking with a travel agent brings. There have been numerous economical, political and environmental situations over the past five years alone affecting the travel industry, which have proven how robust agents are and subsequently driven customers back to booking with them. Between our brands, we have seen more agents opening travel businesses in the last year than previous years, so I don’t see this one- of-a-kind breed dying any time soon.

WHAT'S NEW FOR GOLD MEDAL AND TRAVEL 2 IN 2017? This year will bring more of what agents love from Gold Medal and Travel 2 – more fams, bigger and better incentives, increased agency visits and additional support from our key account managers to assist agents in growing their own businesses. We are close to implementing a new telephone system that will provide a more efficient service for both brands, allowing agents to transact quicker and more effectively. Gold Medal has recently launched

2018 packages to Orlando flying with Virgin Atlantic, with guaranteed pricing helping agents to secure bookings out of date range, while Travel 2 is focusing on the development of specialist products, cruise, touring and luxury. Both brands are currently evaluating

Garstang’s Nicole Eaves receives last year’s award 46

Staff at Garstang Travel celebrate being named No. 1 Agency in 2016 TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST

the results of a survey conducted with more than 500 agents to ensure we continue to improve on every element of our service. We will announce the next raft of enhancements to the trade shortly. Watch this space.

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