Advantage unpacks "the role and purpose of the travel agent"

The Advantage Travel Partnership is looking forward to a 'Buon Futuro' at the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa for the 2024 iteration of its annual conference.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, the Partnership's ever-present CEO, opened proceedings, welcoming delegates to what she promised would be "an event that would challenge our aspirations, fulfil our commitment to sustainable leadership and champion the positive impact of travel, whilst also highlighting the sector’s profound economic and social influence."

A consistent message

2023's conference peddled a message that, as Julia said in last year's opening keynote, "Tourism can be a force for good and we should be proud of the economic and social impact our industry delivers... it gives us the opportunity to exchange new ideas, drive business innovation and embrace different and unique experiences."

So what has changed? Very little: this year's opening session featuring a breakdown of the conference's carbon impact from Sarah Whiting, channels solution lead at Thrust Carbon, which measured the conference's impact at around 694,711 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, while also saving around 16kg of CO2 equivalent per attendee thanks to sustainable choices.

"I believe we have taken a bold approach – not being afraid to champion long-haul travel and with a strong emphasis on purposeful content that captures these points."

Jetsetting into Tomorrow

Julia showcased the business' three-year strategy, which is founded on four pillars: footprint expansion (with new branches already worth £108 million to the Partnership), digital transformation (to leverage commercial intelligent and increase digital engagement), product & portfolio capitalisation (to leverage its sizeable buying power) and operational excellence (offering fully-accredited member training and enhancing technical offering).

That plan doubles down on the Partnership's ongoing success, which has seen UK members generate £7.6 billion annually so far.

Pointing towards the Partnership's new 'Jetsetting into Tomorrow' report, which suggested that Gen Z is "heralding a "complete revolution" in travel expectations," the CEO emphasised that "travel agents are best placed to help consumers navigate booking holidays, taking into account their various needs, desires, concerns and budgets."

Drawing to a close with a prophetic outlook on the future of the travel industry, Julia suggested that the trade's position is a steady yet high-potential one: "Many of the indicators show that holidays and travel remain of vital importance to people and business, so we can look forward with a high degree of optimism."

But the discourse must not end solely with optimism:  "[The conference] is about much more than this: in a world where booking travel has been commoditised, it's about the overall role and purpose of the travel agent, and how their expertise underpins this professional service, consumer protection, choice and value. 

"I am very much looking forward to the next few days and spending as much time with you as I can."

The Advantage Travel Partnership Conference is taking place from May 15th to 18th, 2024 at the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa in Cancun.