Travel industry experts: Face to face holiday bookings are holding own against online getaway deals

By Davie Heaton & Amy Senior

Jet-setters are opting to quiz sellers in person rather than book online, industry experts say.

As Manchester Central prepares to host the UK’s most successful travel exhibition for the 25th time, face-to-face sales appear to be holding their own against internet bookings.

The Holiday and Travel Show provides travel representatives with a chance to entice sun-seekers keen to escape the northern winter with bespoke holidays.

And John Fish, chairman of John Fish Exhibitions who launched the show in 1987, said the opportunity for people to look exhibitors in the eye while questioning them was central to its continuing success.

“The last show was our most successful ever, despite the well documented difficulties faced recently by the industry,” he said.

“People really enjoy that human aspect of having somebody from Cuba or Malaysia or wherever passionately promoting what their country has to offer.”

Gail Ryan, branch manager of Co-op Travel on Corporation Street, said her customers were also opting to speak to a representative in the flesh.

“Travel agents have years of experience, we’re accredited and can answer questions instantly face-to-face.” she said.

“People think it’s quicker and cheaper to search online but that’s often not the case.”

Cheap and cheerful package holidays are expected by many to flourish in 2011 as the British travel industry recovers from a tumultuous couple of years which has seen recession, volcanic ash and mass strikes.

But TripAdvisor said two-thirds of Brits were planning at least one long-haul flight in 2011 as people look to escape the expensive Eurozone countries.

And Mr Fish is glad to be offering Mancunians the chance to explore their exotic travel options for at least another year.

“Manchester is the perfect city to host this event, and when I think back to our very first show, I’m immensely proud of how far we’ve come.”

The show will take place on 6, 7 and 8 January 2012.

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