//ABTA Travel Convention: Day one

ABTA Travel Convention: Day one

Highlights of day one of ABTA’s conference in Seville

The United Kingdom’s ambassador to Spain congratulated ABTA on its work to restore the reputation of the British tourist during the first day of the ABTA Travel Convention.

The annual event, which this year is being held in Seville, saw speakers from across the industry take to the stage, including the bosses of Der Touristik and Midcounties Co-operative.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, kicked off proceedings at the beginning of the day by sounding a note of cautious optimism, saying that while “the future’ is unlikely to be paradise, there’s no reason to believe that it will be Hell, either”.

In one of the most well received addresses of the day, Bryony Gordon, a feature writer at The Telegraph, spoke candidly on the subject of dealing with mental illness. A poll taken at the convention found that 56% of delegates would feel comfortable telling their bosses that they were suffering with a mental health problem.

Simon Manley, the British ambassador to Spain, spoke about the importance of the United Kingdom to the country, with about 19 million Britons taking a trip to Spain in 2017.

“Spain has a lot of skin in the game,” he said, referring to the ongoing Brexit negotiations. He added that the government was working day-in-day-out to secure a deal on frictionless trade and frictionless travel.

One of the final sessions of the day was a panel on The Future of the Expert with Derek Jones, CEO of Der Touristik UK; Alistair Rowlands, boss of Midcounties Co-operative; Becky Power, sector director of Travel at Google; and Clare Irvin, head of travel editorial at The Telegraph.

When asked about the expertise of Kuoni, Jones said that the company enjoyed a 70% conversion rate for customers in their stores, adding that human contact, coupled with knowledge was key.

Rowlands backed up the sentiment adding that “You can’t replace the trust element of a travel agent. You can’t buy it. It’s earned over time.

“As retailers, we have a Net Promoter score of 94. People want to work with people.”

Sam Ballard is a director and co-founder of Waterfront Publishing, creator of ABTA Magazine, Cruise Adviser, Solus and more.