Being part of a travel advisor-owned consortium can deliver some healthy financial rewards, but the members of one agent-owned group claim the benefits extend well beyond the bottom line to include greater support, transparency and control.
Compass Travel & Cruising’s Lynn Bradley hasn’t paid any membership fees for almost the entire time she’s been with one of Australia’s most celebrated retail groups.
That’s despite receiving an array of invaluable sales and marketing support services, including a managed website, a unique B2B/B2C booking platform and the ability to call on a BDM whenever required.
More than money
How? It’s because while the Sydney-based agency owner pays annual dues each year, she sees the money returned straight back to her in the form of a healthy profit distribution.
“Receiving dividends is important to me but not just because it’s a nice financial boost. It also reminds me I’m sharing in the success of Travellers Choice and part of a company working for me. It’s a two-way street,” Ms Bradley explained.
The advantages of being part of an agency-owned group extend beyond the financial. It’s also about members being represented at the highest level.
In the case of Travellers Choice, that means members must always hold the majority of seats on the company’s Board.
Australind Travel & Cruise Centre Owner Saibra Twigg said this ensures it never loses sight of the challenges faced by shareholders.
“It’s good to know the majority of directors are individuals at the coalface of retail travel – that’s one of the big differences,” Ms Twigg said.
“It gives me confidence that our Board is always acting in the best interests of Travellers Choice members.”
Ms Bradley said direct connection with members was never more important than during COVID.
“It shaped the way our group responded to the pandemic with clear and constant communication and a tireless commitment to helping resolve issues with suppliers. The reality is if it wasn’t for Travellers Choice, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Travel Makers Owner Phil Dalley joined the Travellers Choice Board in 2014, bringing his experience running a highly successful independent agency and broader industry understanding from an earlier career in aviation.
Mr Dalley said during his time on the Board, the presence of agency owners has not only kept Travellers Choice closely attuned to the needs of its members but also helped deliver maximum value to them.
“Having agency owners sitting around the table brings a sense of reality to the Board in terms of what is happening in members’ businesses and across the industry in general. Without that connection, I think it would be easy for a board to lose touch,” the Canberra-based agency owner said.
Ms Twigg said Travellers Choice members also enjoy a level of transparency that’s not available at non-agent-owned groups.
“At our annual member meetings held across the country, our Chair and Managing Director deliver in-depth briefings that provide real insight into the company’s direction,” she said.
“Those gatherings also allow every member shareholder to put forward their views on that strategy.
“That feedback is listened to and acted upon, especially if there are objections. It’s a genuine conversation.”
For Ms Bradley, the sense of fairness and empowerment that comes from every shareholder having an equal vote is the ultimate benefit of membership in an agent-owned group.
“I downsized during COVID but I still feel as important as ever to Travellers Choice because it doesn’t matter how big or small I am, I know my vote counts just as much as the next member’s,” she said.
Ready to become a member? Head here.
This article was brought to you by:
Share this story