Agents accuse Prestige Travel of ‘short-sighted’ decision

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Agents accuse Prestige Travel of ‘short-sighted’ decision

Travel agents say they’re shocked and saddened at Prestige Travel’s decision to get rid of its on-the-road sales team.

The operator confirmed yesterday that it had made Director of Sales Shubhra Halliday and one other member of the sales team redundant.

But Managing Director Lee Hamilton said an earlier report in the trade press, which alluded to other redundancies within the business development team, was ‘inaccurate’.

He said three Business Development Managers, Charlotte Sargeson, Denise Bridgeman and one other, all of whom only joined the company earlier this year, had already quit.

He said all three had left of their own accord, ‘due to both personal reasons and their previous roles being made open to them again’.

Lee said this had made the company re-evaluate the business development team.

“It was an extremely difficult decision to lose Shubhra and Emma, we have no doubt they will be back in the industry in no time, doing a great job,” said Lee, who added: “After losing the majority of the team we had to make difficult decisions.”

He added that Prestige would be continuing to support the trade via a new Commercial Director, who will be appointed ‘as soon as possible’.

But agent Simon Oram, Director of West Midlands-based The Travel Shop, said this was ‘a short-sighted and incorrect decision’.

Writing on Travel Gossip’s Facebook page, Simon added: “Getting rid of the BDM team but then recruiting for a commercial director? Doesn’t make sense.

“The connection between agent and operator now needs to be rebuilt and in a way the trust has now gone.”

Other agents described the move as ‘sad’, ‘very strange’ and ‘poor’.  Some expressed concerns that Prestige is planning to go direct-sell.

However, Lee said: “We are 100% focused on trade, and 100% of our budget is geared to an increased support package.

“We will be releasing a lot more detail in the coming weeks with plans of our collaborative events for the next 12 months and how we plan to support agents, including fam trips, marketing and training materials and the release of our dedicated agent booking portal.”

The company, previously known as Prestige Holidays, was bought by Embrace Travel Group last year, leading to the retirement of Chairman and MD John Dixon.

Earlier this year, it rebranded, promoted Lee from General Sales Manager to MD and expanded its business development team, which was led by Shubhra.

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