AITO Specialist Travel Agents’ domestic conference 2013

The biggest issues facing the independent sector were debated at the association’s annual conference in Warwickshire
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Jan. 14, 2013 - PRLog -- AITO independent agents and operators gathered last weekend at the AITO Specialist Travel Agents domestic conference - held at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire, 12-13 January 2013. With over 200 delegates in attendance, the conference programme included many networking opportunities, business sessions and workshops, and also saw the achievements of AITO Agents recognised and rewarded at its annual All Stars Awards Ceremony.

Chairman of AITO Agents, Oliver Broad, said: “Sustainability was the hot theme of this year’s conference - whether sustaining good relations between agents and operators, with clients or the bigger picture of sustainable tourism. We all need to maintain our profit levels, but should also work to develop them in order to further our businesses and move with the times.  Knowledge of the issues around us is paramount and our conference helped to highlight some of these and to stimulate discussion for action.”

Business sessions
Headline-sponsored by AITO operator If Only, the conference featured an interesting mix of speakers addressing key industry matters – including David Moesli of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) talking to delegates about its hotly-anticipated planned consumer campaign on ATOL reform, as well as Dr Xavier Font, Co-Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, educating delegates on how to use sustainability to gain a competitive advantage.

AITO representatives also formed an expert panel to highlight their top tips for 2013 and one big issue to keep an eye on; the panel featured Ted Wake of Kirker Holidays, Nigel Armitage of Millington Travel, Eddie Kyle of Kyle Travel Services and Brendan Maguire of If Only – and included a lot of audience participation.

Delegates also took part in a new ‘speed-dating’ style face-to-face marketplace which gave agents the chance to learn more about unique and inspiring trips offered by operators, including the newest members to join the AITO portfolio. This was in addition to a main marketplace, which was one of the largest gatherings of independent agents and operators in the travel industry calendar.

Just a Drop campaign
Jono Vernon-Powell of Nomadic Thoughts briefed delegates about the international water aid charity Just a Drop’s partnership with AITO Agents to raise £20,000 over six months to improve the lives of 6,000 Ugandan villagers. He overviewed Just a Drop’s life-saving work, highlighting to members how they could support the cause through organising local fundraising events and activities. AITO Agent members plan to organise an array of charity events and activities from now until June 2013 in order to reach the target. The fundraising efforts kicked off in style at the domestic conference with delegates taking part in a raffle, with prizes including a stay at the luxury Niyama and Huvafen Fushi resorts in the Maldives courtesy of AITO operator, Lusso.

AITO Agent accolades
The most successful AITO Agents were recognised during the conference’s All Stars Awards Ceremony - sponsored by AITO operator Anatolian Sky Holidays. The AITO All Stars incentive scheme 2012 recognised those AITO Agents who had achieved the best results when selling holidays offered by AITO. The winners were as follows:

National All Star of the Year and South of England All Star:
Hertfordshire-based Beaver Travel

North of England and Northern Ireland All Star:
Cheshire-based Deva Travel

Central England and the East All Star:
Staffordshire- based RB Collection (Robert Broad Travel)

National, North of England and Northern Ireland Best Newcomer (AITO Agents that joined in 2011, based on 2012 figures):
County Down-based Feherty Travel

South of England Best Newcomer:
Hampshire-based Ambassador Travel  

Central England and the East Best Newcomer:
Nottinghamshire-based Hyde Barker Travel

Worcestershire-based Carrick Travel was also recognised as the Most Improved AITO Agent and Stephanie Jepson of Gloucestershire-based Courtney World Travel picked up the Shining Star Award for her success selling AITO products over the last year (voted for by AITO operators and Panel).

The winners received top prizes courtesy of AITO operators, including trips to Kerala with Trans Indus, Sri Lanka with If Only, Mauritius with Beachcomber Tours, Portugal with Sunvil Discovery and Gran Canaria with Classic Collection Holidays, as well as champagne from Anatolian Sky.

With plenty of experts in the travel industry, who should you trust to give an honest insight into the current market? AITO Specialist Travel Agents ( represents more than 120 of the leading independent travel agencies in the UK – all fully independent, and all in the front line of the travel industry.

Ends – 14 January 2012


Attached image shows the AITO All Star Winners, top left to right: Nathan Collins of RB Collection – Robert Broad Travel, Scott Parker of Feherty Travel, Neil Walker of Feherty Travel, Gary Green of Beaver Travel and Tracey Carter of Carrick Travel. Bottom left to right: Stephanie Jepson of Courtney World Travel, Ted Wake - AITO Agents Deputy Chairman, Oliver Broad - AITO Agents Chairman and Helen Ferguson of Deva Travel.

For more images of the conference or for further information on AITO Specialist Travel Agents, please call Stephanie Reed on 020 8891 4440 or email
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