Our model is all about the 21st century, says ITG

Our model is all about the 21st century, says ITG
By admin

Technological and digital advances have been highlighted as priorities for the Independent Travel Group as it forges ahead with ambitious growth plans, reporting a rise in interest as agents from rival firms consider their options.

Opening the Independent Travel Group conference in Hong Kong at the weekend, chief executive Tom Manwaring referred to recent comments by rival groups which had implied its business model was outdated, branding them “misinformed and frankly disappointing”.

He underlined the firm’s commitment to innovating in the technology space, with a number of social media and digital marketing tools now available for its agents.

“We’re not just into that, we’re very much into it and we have been for four years,” he said.

“But if we’ve got under someone’s skin to that extent then we are doing our job.”

Manwaring reported a rise in the number of enquiries from agents considering their options in the face of massive change.

“There’s a lot of shopping going on at the moment,” he confirmed.

But while some have branded efforts to woo disgruntled Jetset Travelworld agents as “opportunistic”, Manwaring was unapologetic.

“We don’t shy away from that – business is opportunity,” he said. “Are we talking to a lot of agents at the moment? Yes, we are. Hopefully it will lead to a bigger and stronger group for us.”

ITG is targeting 100 fully branded I Talk Travel stores, 350 Independent associates and 350 Select affiliates by 2015, with an overall turnover of $1 billion.

Those goals have been set following a compound growth of 27% year on year since 2003 in terms of customer numbers and 17% in net sales. In 2013 its total transaction value came to almost $600 million.

“We are a simple low cost business structured for the 21st century,” Manwaring said. “We do not have a cumbersome head office structure – our staff numbers are very tight.”

Meanwhile, the ITG team showcased a range of product updates and releases to its Express Ticketing platform including Express Hotels, Express Desktop and a range of marketing tools including a “cluster marketing” option designed to help agents “take control”.

Executive general manager Ari Magoutis reported a pleasing first year for Express Cruise which he said has gone “from strength to strength”.

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