Travel Counsellors to exit Australian market

Travel Counsellors staff portraits, Manchester. Director Steve Byrne. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 10, 2018.

Travel Counsellors has announced its departure from the local market, with Australian franchisees to migrate to Express Travel Group (ETG) in early 2021.

Travel Counsellors and ETG have held extensive talks to ensure that individual Travel Counsellors will be supported to continue running their corporate and leisure travel businesses in the country.

The transition will take place on 1 February 2021, with plans to launch a new brand under the ETG umbrella in 2021.

Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne will oversee the transition in an advisory role. Regional managing director Kaylene Shuttlewood and a number of the Travel Counsellors’ support team based in Melbourne will transfer to ETG, headquartered in Melbourne, with offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth.

A consultation process will begin for all Travel Counsellors Australia support team members, with a dedicated program of support which focuses on wellbeing, finances and future career development.

“Our aim in this has been to find an elegant and caring way forward for our people, and support as many of our franchisees as possible to transition their business to Express Travel Group, which has a long-established history in Australia since 1983,” Byrne said.

“Since the start of the pandemic, Travel Counsellors has been quick to react and adapt both financially and operationally, with the company embarking on a package of measures to support our long-term strategy and future growth, which has led to this transition decision.

“As such, we have taken great care to source the right business partner for our people, and in doing so have found Express Travel Group share our core values, which are based on showing care, providing personal service to customers, and feature a strong organisational culture centred around putting people at the heart of everything they do.

“Throughout this period, we will support our colleagues and provide a safe, guided process for Travel Counsellors transitioning their franchise where they can look forward to a bright future as part of the ETG network, continuing to grow their businesses and deliver outstanding levels of customer care.

“We have taken the time to make sure that we have the team in place to support each and every individual whenever they need us.”

Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne

ETG chief executive Tom Manwaring said: “Express Travel Group has a long and proud history of supporting and promoting independent agencies, so we are delighted to have formed this partnership with Travel Counsellors, and look forward to welcoming its business owners into the ETG family.

“The care and attention Travel Counsellors show to their customers means that they are a natural fit for our community here in Australia.”

“We look forward to working closely with Travel Counsellors regional managing director Kaylene Shuttlewood and CEO Steve Byrne through this period to deliver a seamless transition experience for everyone involved.

The news comes just after ETG secured an eight-year-plus deal with Aeronology for the integration of the Melbourne-based travel tech company’s NDC-compliant ticketing system into the Express Tickets platform across Australia and New Zealand through its majority ownership of First Travel Group.

Featured image source: Travel Counsellors/Paul Heyes

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