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Holiday Extras National Press

Selling airport parking and hotel accommodation might not be as glamorous as working in a Mediterranean holiday resort, but it does offer some attractive opportunities. More people are booking their own trips over the internet and the days of the traditional rep seem numbered. Despite this, all is not gloom.

Anthony Clarke Cowell, 29, joined Holiday Extras which specialises in the sale of airport parking, hotel beds straight from university in 1998. He started in a call centre on about £11,000 a year, but was fast tracked into an executive position, where he learned how to negotiate contracts with hoteliers and airport companies.

Now, as senior commercial executive at the firm's offices in Hythe, Kent, his work has a direct bearing on profits. The better the deals Anthony negotiates, the more money the company will make when it sells on products to holidaymakers.

'Contracting is vital and I love the buzz you get when you get a good deal,' he says.

Anthony has spent several years learning the ropes in the commercial department and, though he finds his job a challenge, he is still looking to the future. 'The company has a policy of promoting from within and I'm interested in developing new areas of business,' he says.

The benefits of working for Holiday Extras have stopped him from looking elsewhere. There is an employee share scheme and often the companies he deals with offer him cut-price hotel deals.

'The atmosphere in our office is fantastic,' he says. 'I'm lucky to work with great people. The company really looks after you and it's a very sociable atmosphere. I even met my wife here.'

Richard English, managing director of Retraining, which trains people for jobs in travel firms, says there are more opportunities than ever before among companies operating on the periphery of the industry. 'Firms that specialise in the extras or add-ons you need for a holiday have grown because people say "please, sort it out for me".' he says.

But anthony admits there are some downsides to his job. 'Most of my friends ask me if I can get free flights to Australia,' he says. 'They seem a little disappointed when I say "no, but I might be able to get you a cheap hotel room in Cardiff".'

Article written by Jeremy Skidmore - The Mail on Sunday.

By: Barry Holloway