Helloworld Travel CEO Andrew Burnes has praised the survival efforts of the company’s agents, and is expecting a “very significant” increase in demand for their services in 2021.
Speaking at Helloworld’s annual general meeting on Friday, Burnes acknowledged the “extraordinary job” of all member agents in Australia in New Zealand to stay afloat, to look after their customers, to manage the cancellation and refund processes, and to remain positive in the face of “extreme adversity”.
“Over 85 per cent of our network members remain in business and are now starting to see green shoots with a recovery in domestic travel, trans-Tasman travel and importantly international enquiries for travel in the latter part of 2021 and into 2022,” he said.
“We expect that our retail travel agencies will experience a very significant increase in demand in 2021, firstly because their services will be in great demand given the complexities of travel in a post-COVID world, but also because the relative level of competition across Australia will be dramatically reduced given the recent announcements by some of our friendly competitors about the shrinkage of their own retail footprints in Australia and New Zealand.”
Burnes also commended the contributions of all personnel at Helloworld and its subsidiaries across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and other parts of the world.
“At the beginning of March 2020, we had 1,950 personnel working in the business, and while it was very difficult to have to reduce our overall headcount, as we head into the end of 2020 we have over 1,100 personnel employed in the business, mostly in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“Many of them have worked on a part-time basis since March, while others have been stood down for that period of time.
“As we roll into 2021, we are looking forward to welcoming back all of our existing personnel, initially mostly on a part-time basis.
“But, as 2021 unfolds we will bring back as many people as possible as quickly as possible to a full-time role within the business.”