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NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW 4


Aito hails record £60m sales by agent members


Juliet Dennis juliet.dennis@travelweekly.co.uk


Aito agents and operators have forged closer ties than ever before, the association’s bosses have claimed after reporting record sales and a new ‘excellence’ scheme.


Aito Specialist Travel Agents


enjoyed record sales worth £60.2 million through 38 supplier members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators in 2017, it was reported at last weekend’s Aito domestic


conference in Leicestershire. The figures were up from


£58 million in 2016, £56 million in 2015 and £53 million in 2014. They represent sales by all


87 Aito Specialist Travel Agents through 38 of Aito’s 116 operators as part of the Aito Agents All Stars Incentive Scheme. Beaver Travel was named National All Star of the Year 2017 for the fifth year in a row. Aito Agents chairman Gemma


Antrobus said: “Every year Aito agents are selling more of Aito operators’ products and the mood at the conference was buoyant.”


Twelve agents were awarded


bronze, silver or gold status for the first time in the Agent Excellence programme, launched a year ago. This recognises agents’ engagement with Aito based on criteria including meeting new operators, attending Aito events and displaying the Aito logo. Antrobus said the programme


was helping agents see the benefits of using Aito more fully. “It was great to see smaller agents recognised for using Aito to grow their own business,” she added.


Aito chairman Derek Moore said the aim to bring operators and agents closer was reaping results. “The fact Gemma and I are constantly pushing the concept of the ‘Aito family’ seems to be bearing fruit,” he said. In total 68 agents and 71


operators attended the conference. Peter Sommer Travels was among those to go for the first time. Founder Peter Sommer said: “Meeting quality agents face to face at the conference has been very worthwhile.”


Marketplace session at Aito conference


5 STORIES HOT


5 Melinis to become UK chief of APT


Lucy Huxley lucy.huxley@travelweekly.co.uk


APT has named Paul Melinis as its new UK & Europe regional managing director, as the escorted touring and river cruise operator looks to bolster its commitment to the UK market.


Melinis will join from Insight


Vacations, part of The Travel Corporation, where he has spent 17 years in senior sales roles. In his new position, Melinis will be responsible for accelerating


growth of APT’s touring and cruise business in the UK and Europe organically and through trade partnerships. He will join the team at its office in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, in April and report into chief commercial officer Debra Fox. Melinis, who is deputy chairman of the Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers, said: “I’m joining APT at an exciting time. “The brand has never been in a


stronger position in the UK. “I’m looking forward to taking the business to the next level,


6 travelweekly.co.uk 11 January 2018


building on the solid relationships and strategy already in place and also through establishing new revenue opportunities.” Melinis, who has worked in


the travel industry for 25 years, will take over from Nicole De Wilde, APT’s sales and marketing vice-president for North America, the UK and Europe, who did not want to relocate from Canada as the operator ups its UK focus. Fox said: “We are


delighted to welcome Paul Melinis


Paul to APT. His knowledge, commercial and strategic acumen, and ability to accelerate product and business growth will make him a perfect fit for the team we already have in place in the UK.” Ulla Hefel Böhler, chief executive of TTC’s Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, said: “We are extremely grateful to Paul for his 17 years of service with Insight Vacations and the wider TTC family of brands. He is with us until the end of March to ensure a smooth transition.”


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