Travel Agents

“We don’t have one-night stands”: Travel Counsellors CEO on the importance of referrals

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne says the company does not believe in creating one-off holidays for its clients, instead focusing on business referrals and customer satisfaction for business success.

The comments came at this year’s Travel Counsellors conference, themed ‘TCX’ (the ‘Travel Counsellors Experience’), which took place at the Pullman Adelaide last week, coinciding with the company’s 25th year in operation.

The event saw high-achieving travel counsellors (TCs) awarded extraordinary prizes, a day of meet-and-greets between agents and suppliers, and two days of insightful addresses by Byrne.

One of the key takeaways from Byrne’s second address to TCs, suppliers and the media was the importance of referral for the business, in order to avoid what the CEO referred to as “one-night stands” with clients, which he conveyed, tongue-in-cheek, by using a Kim Kardashian quote to highlight his point.

“We put the customer first because it’s the right thing to do and because our business model demands it … this is a business based on recommendation and referral,” Byrne told conference attendees.

Byrne also spoke about Travel Counsellors recording year-on-year growth of 16 per cent globally, highlighted by an international workforce represented by 1,900 TCs in seven countries – together worth a total transaction/sales value of $1.1 billion.

The company’s CEO expects this figure to increase to $2 billion within the next five years, and also revealed some of the key movements for the year to come at Travel Counsellors, including a continued push to improve the company’s online booking platform, Phenix – an asset that allows agents to access up to 70 per cent more commission.

Sitting down on Thursday before the conference, Byrne told attending media about the company’s direction for 2019, namely that Travel Counsellors is investing in a few key departments: corporate travel, premium product and technology, among others.

Travel Counsellors’ has already committed to doubling its investment in technology spending to $11 million each year, announced in 2018, namely in its online Phenix platform, and a further $2 million investment in its myTC application since 2016.

As it stands, the company’s spread of 145 Australian agents is made up of 25 per cent specialising in corporate travel and 25 per cent specialising in leisure.

“We believe we’ve got a big opportunity in corporate travel – globally and in Australia,” Byrne said.

“At the moment, the corporate business is growing by about 20 per cent and the leisure business has grown by about 12 per cent.”

Byrne said he expects corporate opportunities for the company to continue growing at a faster rate than the company’s leisure business.

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