USAirtours responds to agent concerns with new sales support team

By Lisa James
Home » USAirtours responds to agent concerns with new sales support team

USAirtours is promising agents an improved service when it opens a dedicated sales support department next week.

Founder and CEO Guy Novik has responded to concern from trade partners who’ve expressed difficulty getting hold of a representative from the tour operator during the pandemic.

Guy told Travel Gossip he had to ‘let a lot of staff go’ as a result of the downturn in travel, with 32 staff remaining out of the pre-pandemic team of 83 employees.

He’s recently recruited more people, including six members of staff who have agreed to return, bringing staff numbers up to 49.

This has meant he’s been able to ‘shift some existing staff around’ and has ‘rearranged resources to create a new department’, which will open on Monday. The department will have a dedicated telephone line later this month.

Guy said: “We certainly dropped the ball during the pandemic, but I don’t think you will find a tour operator that didn’t. We acknowledge that, getting through a very difficult period, we have made mistakes just as travel agents have made mistakes, but we have come out on top.”

“Our customer service team has had to do all the heavy lifting during the pandemic, including amending bookings at short notice. Now I’m rearranging everything so sales support can support agents and customer service can concentrate on what they do.

“As the company rebuilds, we are now introducing a new sales support department with additional staff so it will be easier for agents to contact us and get the service they need.

“From the end of April, sales support will have its own phone number.”

He described his staff as ‘heroes’, saying they have had to put up with a lot.

“I appreciate it has been difficult for everyone. Agents have had customers screaming at them to get their refunds. The agents weren’t to blame for what happened, but it wasn’t my staff’s fault either.”

He said the company is now up to date on paying legitimate refunds.

“Any refunds that were due have been paid. But there are always arguments over whether or not a refund is due.  

“We’ve been incredibly flexible and said ‘yes’ hundreds of times in situations that have cost us money when we chose to be flexible, but we can’t say ‘yes’ every time.”

He confirmed USAirtours is no longer a preferred partner of Advantage Travel Partnership, as of the end of 2021, but said the operator will still work with individual Advantage members and other agency groups.

Latest figures show USAirtours matched the number of bookings last month that it generated in March 2019 and has achieved £26 million in sales revenue for the current financial year, ending September 2022.

“As one of the few trade-only tour operators remaining, we are totally reliant on the amazing support that we have received from travel agents.

“While some mistakes were made, we did our best at the time and have been rewarded with the loyal support from so many agents for which we are both proud and grateful.

“We are rewarding both agents with increased booking incentives as well as agency owners with co-op marketing support, which is all part of our ‘Supporting Agents Supporting Us’ programme,” added Guy.

The operator has just renewed its ATOL licence and increased the number of licensed passengers by 51% to 19,865 for the coming year.

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