Now Shapps calls travel agents ESTATE agents

By Lisa James
19/05/2021
Home » Now Shapps calls travel agents ESTATE agents

Grant Shapps has managed to wind up travel agents for the second time in 10 days, after wrongly referring to them as estate agents.

Ironically, the faux pas came as the Transport Secretary was attempting to explain his comments, made at the Friday 7 May Downing Street green-list briefing, when he implied agents were a thing of the past.

His latest clanger was dropped during an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio on Monday, when Breakfast Show host Andy Collins asked him if he would take up the offer, made by independent agency Off Broadway Travel, based in Welwyn Village, to come and visit.

You can hear his ‘estate agent’ reference approximately four minutes into the clip below.

Mr Collins also reminded the Transport Secretary that his comment, ‘travel companies…what people would have called travel agents, perhaps, in the past’, had managed to single-handedly annoy the whole of the travel agency community.

It led to angry agents bombarding Mr Shapps on social media and ABTA complaining to the Department for Transport.

Mr Shapps replied: “Look, I think some estate agents missed what I was saying at the conference at Downing Street, which is simply that people book their travel in many different ways.

“Of course, travel agents are a fantastic way to book and I know that they have been through a hell of a difficult time this past year. I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding about some of the phrase I use.”

The Breakfast Show presenter also played a recorded question from Natalie Bennett, Partner at Off Broadway Travel, which is in Mr Shapps’ constituency. After his comments at the green list briefing, the agency had tweeted Mr Shapps, inviting him to come and visit.

Ms Bennett asked whether her MP would take up the offer to ‘come and see us in action and how much hard work we’ve put in over the last 15 months’.

Mr Shapps replied to say he WILL visit the agency, adding that he had ‘already passed a message back to them’.

When the radio presenter said the agency hadn’t yet received a reply, Mr Shapps added: “Oh I see, that’s interesting. My office is going to set it up for them once the constituency days start again, which, as we are getting through these unlocks they are starting to do.

“I always go and visit companies in my constituency.”

Off Broadway Travel Partner Paul Rice was diplomatic about Mr Shapps’ latest mix-up. He said: “Mr Shapps obviously got confused. We get called estate agents all the time, so I think it was just a slip of the tongue.

“It’s great that he said he will visit. We are waiting to hear from his PA, who will let us know when it’ll happen. We just want him to come in, sit down, and hear us explain what a travel agent does.

“We will make sure he knows the difference between selling holidays and selling houses. There’s an estate agent down the road, so if he wants to find out more about the property market, we will send him there afterwards.”

Paul Rice, Natalie Bennett and Tricia Conroy Smith,  Partners at Off Broadway Travel

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