ABTA to advertise benefits of agents

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is preparing to launch an advertising campaign in an attempt to reverse a growing tendency among consumers to create their holiday packages without the help of a professional intermediary.

ABTA’s advertising agency SWK is creating a £200,000 national and regional print campaign to launch in December to coincide with holidaymakers’ plans for next year’s summer holidays.

ABTA director of corporate affairs Keith Betton says: “The message will drive home the fact that if you choose to travel independently and cut out the middle man, you cut out the expert.”

The trade body is concerned that members are losing out to the burgeoning no-frills airline sector, where customers book a cheap flight and then find their own accommodation.

Betton says the advertising will stress that this method does not provide the protection of a fully bonded travel agent if things go wrong, such as overbooking of hotels or late flights. The advertising strapline will read: “Without us you are on your own”.

He adds that many travel agents recognise they can enter the independent travel market by buying airline deals and putting them together with accommodation for customers. Another benefit on which to sell products is that it saves the customer time. Betton says: “When you buy on the Internet it takes time, and for most people time is money.”

This will be ABTA’s first advertising campaign since the US terrorist attacks of September 11 last year.

SWK has just been bought by the Chemistry Communications Group (MW August 11).

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