Luxury OTA Holidaysplease launches online hub as it closes in on pandemic recovery

Luxury OTA Holidaysplease launches online hub as it closes in on pandemic recovery

Firm’s first annual conference since COVID told firm has seen record months this year

Holidaysplease is on track to return to its pre-pandemic financial position in the coming months, after “taking 12 months to recover what was lost in 21 months” during the pandemic.

Agents attending the company’s first conference since 2019 were told commission payments for the past year were 30% higher than in 2019, with sales ahead of 2019 levels consistently since spring 2021.

Directors Richard Dixon and Charles Duncombe said every calendar month in 2022 had been the best on record for the agency, while July and August were record departure months for the company, accounting for £11 million of business.

The strong performance means Holidaysplease is on track to achieve a target set out by Duncombe in a Travel Weekly webcast before the summer season to recoup losses and return to growth around the turn of the year.

Referring to a sales incentive which will see all agents and HQ staff taken to Mauritius next summer if targets are achieved, Duncombe said: “Everything at the moment suggests we are bang on track.

“You’ve conquered this [the pandemic], you can conquer anything.”

Dixon said the swift recovery was an endorsement of the company’s approach during the pandemic, when it made no redundancies and used cash reserves to ensure it was well-placed to bounce back strongly.

He hailed Duncombe for “steering a £30 million business” through the pandemic, and also said the delegation of responsibility for the day-to-day running of the agency and its franchise arm to senior managers from spring 2021 had helped the company evolve and thrive.

Duncombe told agent partners: “We had the option to play it safe and hunker down or there was the ‘screw this’ option, where if we were going to go down, we were going to go down swinging.

“We stuck the course, knowing Covid was only going to go on for so long, and we were ready for the rapid recovery we have seen since 2021.”

Holidaysplease hailed the resilience of its agents as it unveiled a new online hub featuring a range of information and services.

Richard Dixon told agents they were well-placed to capitalise on the recovery of travel and referring to a presentation by Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes at the agency’s last conference in 2019, he said: 

“Hopefully the resilience Dame Kelly talked to us about has served you well because it was very much on display [during the course of the pandemic]. We wouldn’t have got through the last years without coming together as one.”

Dixon said the business’s sales were currently tracking 30% ahead of 2019.

The Holidaysplease Hub will be a “one-stop shop” for agents and will feature destination and product information and training, in addition to sales and marketing details and assets.

Specific modules will focus on hotel, airlines and cruise, including seating and deck plans, virtual tours, shareable photos and videos and promo codes.

Agents will also be able to access supplier incentives and contacts, financial protection information, policy updates and will have the ability to search for suppliers using fields including those which offer price parity.

The hub will also include a wellbeing area, live and pre-recorded training and webinars and onboarding programmes for new starters.

A second phase of development is due to include modules focused on areas including sales systems and social media.