ORTG Chairman urges industry peers to get online, fast

The biggest challenge for high street independent agents is how to engage with younger customers, delegates were told at this year's Advantage Conference.

Brian Kelly, chairman of Advantage member Online Regional Travel Group (ORTG), said agents who do not have an online presence need to act fast.

"My biggest fear is that when our existing customers stop travelling, how do we engage with new travellers - the 18 to 45-year-olds," he said.

"We are still investing in our bricks and mortar presence but today 25% of our business is online, and we expect that will grow to 50% in three to five years' time."

He said the agency's online operation,, was launched in 1998 and took years to become established.

It is now one of the top 20 most visible travel websites in the UK, above Thomas Cook, he claimed.

He said agents need only look at major retailers like M&S or John Lewis to see that a combination of high street stores and selling online is the key to success.

"This is not being driven by the likes of Thomas Cook or TUI, this is being driven by the consumer, and if you don't act fast enough, the big boys will get there first," he added.

Kelly told fellow members it takes a long time to build an online brand, so they need to get engaged now.

"Taking Joe Bloggs Travel, putting it on a website and taking it live is not good enough. You really have to see this as a long-term investment," he explained.

"We burn cash for three years before making our sites commercially viable."

Original article can be found here
25 April 2016