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EVENTS: Atas members meet agents at the Atas Conference in Birmingham and the Atas Southern Showcase in London


the Better Escorted Touring group (Best). What has changed between Best and the launch of Atas, and what lessons did you learn? A. Great question! For those who are too young to remember, I had an idea years back that all the big touring partners should collaborate and work on the ethos that we would be stronger in numbers. I spent years talking at events or through the media about it, highlighting how great touring holidays are. What the idea lacked was a structure to back it up. With Atas the concept is the same but we have all the things that were missing back then, including an all-important Atas secretariat and 28 other members who are working towards the same goals.


Q. Does the trade understand the opportunities offered by the touring and adventure sector? A. It’s getting a lot better


and that is a testament to Atas in its first year and the companies that are in the sector. By the same token, we have a long way to go, but we are on the right road.


Q. What are the main barriers to growth? A. I don’t think there are any barriers and the growth is endless. We know that by 2020, baby boomers will make up the majority of the UK market and that is our perfect target market. That, combined with amazing repeat rates and evolving product, leaves the sector in a fantastic place for growth.


Q. What are the key selling points of the sector for agents who aren’t currently engaged? A. My question to agents would be, do you sell holidays? If you do, then you have the market. The only barrier to achieving sales is in having a clear understanding


of what your client wants and then being able to match them to the right company and holiday. You just need to ask the right questions and Atas will help you do that.


Q. What has been your most memorable experience on a touring or adventure holiday? A. Over the last 18 years, I have been lucky to go on at least two tours a year. Although I prefer to lie on a beach, I am also a big foodie and there are plenty of escorted tours that offer the chance to experience both. My most memorable experience was a tour to northern Spain. The food and wine in San Sebastian, the great weather, architecture and people just made it a lasting memory and will take me back again and again. There are so many places in the world and I am sure there is a memorable tour or adventure in every one.


BOOK YOUR PLACE AT ATAS 2018


Agents and operators are gearing up for the second Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers Conference in Birmingham on October 22. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the conference returns to the International Convention Centre and promises even more immersive training and learning opportunities. The headline sponsors are media partner Global and technology partner Tigerbay. › Limited places are available on a first come, first served basis. To sign up, go to atasconference.co.uk


4 October 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 19


PICTURES: MATT SPRAKE; SARAH LUCY BROWN


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