Technology with a human touch ·

Technology with a human touch sees travel company’s sales soar

An increase in tech investment and longstanding customer relationships have fired sales at independent travel company Travel Counsellors, which has seen total transactions hit a record high of $1.03b.

The milestone represents a 14 per cent increase on the same period the year before, marking the first results since the firm’s secondary buyout by Vitruvian Partners in May 2018, ending a four-year investment period with Equistone Partners Europe. In the last 12 months, total accounting turnover for the business rose to $469m, up 21 per cent from the previous year’s figure of $388m, achieving a 13th consecutive year of double-digit growth.

Measured between November 2017 and October 2018, the total transaction value was further boosted by a record sales month in January this year, peaking on January 31st with $9.1m in sales – the highest the company has ever achieved in a single day.

Manchester-headquartered Travel Counsellors delivers bespoke travel booking services to leisure and corporate travellers. The company champions a personal approach to travel arrangements, by harnessing the influence of a global network of 1,800 franchisees who run their own travel businesses using bespoke technology platforms, sharing knowledge and expertise across a company community spanning seven countries.

As a result of this approach, 59 per cent of the company’s leisure sales were made by repeat customers last year. The company, founded in 1994, connects customers with their own personal ‘Travel Counsellor’ to provide 24/7 service and comprehensive tailored itineraries to match their individual needs.

Sales at Travel Counsellors come amidst a relative downturn for the global travel industry. Britain and the US were two locations in which travel and tourism underperformed economic growth in 2018, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The challenging nature of the sector has also seen several international airlines cease operations in the last 12 months, including SWISS Global Airlines, Primera Air and Nextjet, with the Airline Insolvency Review predicting one in 200 passengers will be affected by airline collapse in the next 15 years.

Despite this dip, the global travel industry looks set to expand by four per cent in 2019, as shown in the Council’s report – in line with the strength of Travel Counsellors’ global operations.

At the centre of its growth strategy, the company’s investment in technology has risen to $12.5m annually, up from £6m the year prior. The investment continues to develop the capabilities of its online booking platform, Phenix, including adding an intelligent tool that will recommend personal itineraries, as well as using customer data to enhance the digital experience of the company’s mobile travel ‘myTC’ app.

The sales results come as the company’s corporate travel arm, Travel Counsellors for Business, now represents a quarter of company revenue and is 18 per cent up this financial year compared to the same period last year.

With the majority of corporate travel sales derived from its operations in the UK and South Africa, the company’s business travel offering has also reaped the rewards of delivering bespoke travel experiences to corporate travellers. This sizeable and constantly ‘on-the-move’ customer group is taking advantage of the company’s continuous investment in mobile app technology, enabling quick access to all travel information as well as a direct line of communication to their personal Travel Counsellor.

Steve Byrne, Chief Executive of Travel Counsellors, said: “These results reflect the growing number of Travel Counsellor business owners taking advantage of a technology platform, and global knowledge-sharing community, to create highly personalised, corporate and leisure travel experiences for customers.

“Whilst technology continues to be a driving-force in the market, allowing us to track and manage complex itineraries for travellers, the bonds we create with customers, and the level of care and attention they receive, can only be provided by the human touch and a concerted effort to nurture longstanding relationships.

“Despite current uncertainties in the market these results demonstrate an increasing consumer appetite for bespoke travel experiences, designed and delivered by an expert advisor who takes time to get to know them personally, and is available 24/7 if required.”

About Travel Counsellors

Founded in 1994, Travel Counsellors is the world’s largest home-based travel company with over 1,800 self-employed travel consultants and a global support team of over 400 staff. The company is headquartered in Manchester U.K, with operations in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Travel Counsellors Australia Pty Ltd. was established in 2007. Today, nearly 150 Travel Counsellors run their own travel business from home with the support of a Melbourne based Head Office. Travel Counsellors Australia is proud to be a full member of IATA and AFTA and is accredited with ATAS and CLIA.

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