Travel agency chain Going Places is launching a telephone sales operation which it says could sell up to 70,000 holidays a year for the Airtours-owned group.
The new operation, called Go Direct, will be open 364 days a year from 8am to 8pm. It will initially offer holidays from Airtours, Thomson, First Choice, SunWorld and Flying Colours.
Going Places managing director Tony Bennett says he is aiming to make this latest direct-sell operation the market leader within 18 months. The service will be promoted through an ad campaign in the national press, with different holiday destinations and types allocated dedicated numbers.
The company hopes to boost existing trade through its 716 high street stores, and views the direct-sell operation as a cheaper alternative to extending opening hours or opening all stores on Sundays, which according to Bennett, are peak booking times for holidays.
He estimates that between 50,000 and 70,000 holidays a year will be sold through the telephone sales operation.
Direct booking is not a new concept – it was first introduced to the UK by Tjaereborg, the Danish company that was acquired by Owners Abroad and became First Choice. All the major tour operators have put considerable resources behind direct booking in recent years, but this latest venture represents a considerable advance on these.
Going Places already has a small direct-sell operation with the Teletext company Late Escapes and Holidayline. This offers holiday promotions for third-party travel clubs.