“There can’t be a future without limits without change” – wise words that Travel Counsellors live by, here in Australia and around the world.

The group’s leaders revealed at the annual Australian conference in Cairns this weekend, that change is a big part of the company’s success and is regularly deployed in almost all areas of the business as they strive to become the “most loved travel company in the world”.

CLICK HERE for a full gallery of Travel Counsellors at their 2018 gala night.

Although most would be satisfied with a 95 percent customer satisfaction rate worldwide and 94 percent rate in Australia, Travel Counsellors sees a five- to- six-percent opportunity for improvement, which can only be made through operational adjustments.

Speaking to consultants, newly appointed Regional Managing Director, Kaylene Shuttlewood said she can see opportunities for improvement and has a good understanding of what she needs to do “to make Australia even better for Travel Counsellors”.

“It’s evident to me that we have some real opportunities here in Australia, that’s why I’m here and it’s the core reason why I joined the business.”

Kaylene Shuttlewood, Travel Counsellors Regional Managing Director

So from new leadership to training and digital upgrades, here are 10 important changes coming to Travel Counsellors this year:


New leadership


She may be fresh in the role, but Kaylene Shuttlewood has already embodied the position of Regional Managing Director.

In less than five weeks, Shuttlewood has overseen the Australian conference, met her counterparts in the UK, compiled a list of priorities that will be addressed over 2018 (people, Travel Counsellors, Phenix, communication and sales) and promised to work with consultants on ways to further improve training tools.


And potentially opening in new countries


This wasn’t elaborated on, but Shuttlewood said Travel Counsellors is currently operating in “seven countries with growth plans”. Watch this space!


There’ll be more focus on social media


Describing social media as “word of mouth on steroids”, Marketing & PR Manager, Marnie Pugsley, said there’ll be more focus on encouraging TCs to use social media by integrating it into their marketing plans.

Agents can read up on the importance of social media on COACH where modules will be uploaded to “give consultants the right skills so they don’t feel like digital-phobics.”

“It’s important that Travel Agents have a web presence where referral clients can check that they exist,” Pugsley said.


And some $11 million will be invested in digital upgrades


YES, $11 million! Travel Counsellors will invest twice as much as they did in 2015 in digital upgrades designed to “empower Agents’ relationships with clients, NOT replace people”.


New tech will include the ‘Reasons to Call’ dashboard


Travel Counsellors is adding a ‘Reasons to Call’ tool within Phenix, which offers Agents reminders to pick up the phone and contact new and old clients. The aim, according to Digital and Innovation Director, Waseem Haq, is to secure repeat and new bookings by getting in touch for thoughtful reasons such as reminding customers that their passport is due to expire.

“‘Reasons to Call’ gives Agents every opportunity to pick up the phone and call,” Haq said.

The tool will be tested globally in May and then roll out to all consultants at the end of the month.


As well as an online booking tool for corporates


The online booking tool gives corporates the chance to book work trips at any time/anywhere with all bookings relayed back to consultants. Shuttlewood said the tool in NO WAY replaces Agent’s but rather enhances their relationship with clients.


AND the team in South Africa has grown


Travel Counsellors has recruited new people to its South Africa tech team in order to expand its skill set, become a truly global team and offer consultants 24/7 tech support “because there are always people available”.


There’ll be more DMC relationships


Creating new DMC relationships is a key focus for the group this year as it aims to secure new contracts, which will allow Agents to use these local experts to create unique itineraries for their clients.

Chief Commercial Officer, Kirsten Hughes, said the aim for 2018 is to have at least 3-4 DMC contracts in each destination, up from the current 1-2.

“These DMC relationships allow consultants to add value that is right for the customer,” Hughes said.


With faster quote times


Wait over 48 hours for a quote? That’s not good enough for the Travel Counsellors team, where they’re negotiating with DMCs to send email acknowledgements within 24 hours and a quote within 48 hours.

So far, 40 percent of DMCs have agreed to the speedy response time and Hughes expects this to grow over the coming months.


PLUS extra hotel contracts


Ensuring the in-group booking system, Phenix, is equipped with almost any type of accommodation Agents and their client could want, Travel Counsellors is planning to have another 250 hotel contracts signed by 31 August, many within Asia and Fiji.


Oh AND, AI is coming


Yes, Travel Counsellors is looking at using artificial intelligence but that’s all that can be said on that for now, keep an eye on KARRYON for more details in the near future.


READ: CLICK HERE for a full gallery of images from the welcoming pool party

READ: CLICK HERE for a full gallery of pictures from the supplier ‘POW WOW’

READ: Award winners, find out who the best of the best are at TC

READ: Travel Counsellors gather in Cairns for a ‘future without limits’

What are your thoughts on the news?