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Virgin Holidays going direct gives boost to US specialists

Virgin HolidaysUS travel specialists are seeing sales soar after Virgin Holidays decided to go direct and stop selling through the trade.

One such operator is USAirtours, which has broken its own records by making more than £1 million in sales in a single week for the first time in its 34 years of trading.

Trade-only

USAirtours stopped all direct-sell promotions in 2004 to become trade-only, and has just confirmed that it took more than 1,000 bookings for destinations in the US in the week starting 9 January.

California fly-drives and Florida villa holidays have proved particularly popular and been partly responsible for the 22% year on year increase in sales for the company. USAirtours had expanded its reservation team by a fifth after Virgin Holidays' announced it would stop selling through agents last October because it anticipated an increase in business.

Scratching the surface

USAirtours Founder and Chief Executive Guy Novik said: “As a result of Virgin Holidays' decision, more than 130 new agencies having started selling us in January alone.”

“Ordinarily, we would see growth in sales of 5%-7% in January, but we are just scratching the surface and intend to pick up as much of their business as we can get,” he added. 

Whilst he acknowledged that Virgin Holidays' decision to go direct deserved respect, Novik pointed out that the brand remains very powerful. “There are already a lot of airline operators that sell direct, but there is still a huge market for the services of a local travel agent,” he explained. 

Aggressive prices

Another company who have seen sales jump is US and Caribbean specialist Funway Holidays, who saw the first two weeks of January return a 44% year-on-year increase in sales.

Stephen Rhodes, Funway Holidays Managing Director, said: “Some of it is due to Virgin Holidays going direct; however, they are being very aggressive price-wise and working hard to retain repeat customers.

Rhodes went on to say that the Caribbean and Mexico are “good alternatives to Tunisia and Egypt for winter sun”, highlighting the way that some holidaymakers are choosing their destinations carefully this year.

If you are planning a trip across the Atlantic this year book your Long-Haul Travel Insurance well in advance.

Date Created: 22 January 2016

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