//Co-op Travel Consortium hosts virtual conference

Co-op Travel Consortium hosts virtual conference

Delegates were addressed by Midcounties Co-operative’s CEO Phil Ponsonby and suppliers

Travel agency members of the Co-op Travel Consortium, part of Midcounties Co-operative, have joined its virtual conference, which took place November 18-19 2020.

The online event, which was attended by 80 delegates from more than 70 agencies, was the first conference held by Co-op Travel Consortium since it doubled in size, from 70 to more than 140 members, following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Delegates were addressed by Midcounties Co-operative’s CEO Phil Ponsonby; Travel Group COO Rad Sofronijevic; and head of Co-op Travel Consortium Alison Holmes.

Sofronijevic explained how the other divisions within the society were pulling together to “put their arms around travel” in readiness for the arrival of peaks.

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Holmes presented trend data from the latest Mintel reports as well as insights gleaned from the October cluster meetings, to help prepare members for peaks. She said: “The virtual conference was a great opportunity for us to thank our consortium members for their hard work, resilience and dedication to their customers during these difficult times and to show them that a brighter future is in sight.

“Our research and the findings from our recent cluster meetings show that there is an abundance of pent-up demand out there and, in many cases, customers are looking to upgrade their holiday for 2021, or even take two breaks rather than the usual one, because they missed out on a getaway this year. Rail holidays are selling well, demand for winter beach holidays has increased, potentially because customers didn’t manage to get their beach fix in the summer, and we’re seeing that customers want to book with suppliers who offer flexibility.

“We’re feeling optimistic about recovery in the new year. The positive news that is continuing to come out regarding the Covid-19 vaccines,  the recent announcement of the new test to release quarantine system, and the opening of travel corridors to some of our favourite long-haul destinations is already having a positive effect on bookings. Sales overall for Co-op Travel Consortium for November are strong so far, and it looks like it will be the biggest month for sales since February.”

A supplier panel featured Steve Williams from MSC Cruises, Alan Cross from Jet2Holidays, Brad Bennetts from easyJet Holidays, Nick Hughes from GoldMedal/Travel2 and Alistair Rowland of Blue Bay Travel.