Travel Counsellors has not “disrupted the industry to the extent that we’d like”, and has set out ambitious goals for the Australian market, which they expect to grow disproportionally to the rest of the world.
“This should be bigger than it is. When we set up in Australia we said that once we’d established a successful business that we could use the reputation here to springboard into neighbouring regions,” Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne said.
With 145 Travel Counsellor agents in Australia, Byrne admits that they would ‘expect to have more than that in a market of this size’.
As for competition, Byrne was transparent, saying, “We’re not as big and arguably not as successful.
“When we came into Australia ten years ago other agencies professionalised their service.”
Byrne flagged expansion into three new markets, but couldn’t confirm where or when at this stage.
“We want to give non-UK countries better support than they’ve been given,” Byrne said.
Hence the appointment of Managing Director Fred Van Eijk who will manage the day-to-day operations in country while Byrne addresses high level strategy.
And that Travel Counsellors strategy going forward is RR2P – recruitment, referrals and rebook as well as Phenix – their technology platform.
Current recruitment figures stand at 50-60 each year, but the agency would like to see 200-300 plus.
Globally, the agency wants to see customers grow from 300,000 to one million.
Travel Counsellors seeks to scale the global business and grow from 1600 agents to 3000 or 4000 in the next three years.
While it’s not a numbers game, management stressed, they underlined the importance of a goal.
“We need to be better at setting out our business proposition – what do you want to do as a travel organisers,” Byrne said.
Recruitment in coming years will stem from targeting both experienced agents as well as tour operators working in established business.
The agency also sees opportunity in people who have had a career break from travel with their return to travel program.