Speakers at last week’s World Travel Market Vision Conference have predicted that business will pick up for high street travel agents. Euromonitor International has claimed that travel retail sales will grow by 2% next year and around 3% for the following three years as part of its Forecast Update - Recovery in Sight? report, Euromonitor Head of Travel and Tourism Research Caroline Bremner said the recession had seen customers return the high street. “People are looking for advice and piece of mind,” she said. “The high street is in a much better position than it was five years ago.” Thomas Cook, TUI and the Co-op have all revealed plans to expand their retail estates this year. However, some groups warned the high street needed to reflect customers’ lifestyles. “The evening bookings peak is critical,” said Monarch Airlines Managing Director Tim Jeans. “If I have 10,000 bookings by 5pm, I know there will be 20,000 by midnight. The high street does not get that evening burst when people are prepared to spend money.” Bremner added that high street agents should offer other services such as selling coffee and travel guides to expand their offering. P&O Cruises Managing Director Carol Marlow added 90% of her sales come from travel agents, which helped the business have a positive start to trading for the current season. ABTA’s Frances Tuke said travellers confidence had been knocked by the economic situation, ash cloud disruption, strikes and bad weather. “It’s therefore not surprising that there is a predicted uplift in high street agency retail over the next few years as the reassurance and expertise face to face sales can be hard to beat,” she told Travel Daily. “Some of the bigger ABTA Members are expanding their high street portfolio this year as they have realised that a personal and professional service can give them an advantage, and strengthen customer loyalty.” Tuke added that competition would be fierce and “the rise in sales won’t be felt immediately”. “Members are also investing in sophisticated customer relationship management systems that will help agents provide their customers with tailor made options that really suit their requirements,” she added.