Keeping up with the speed of growth, team development & partnerships at TravelManagers last year was like trying to maintain speed with a cheetah sprinting at full speed.
There was just SO MUCH happening at TravelManagers throughout 2018, Chairman Barry Mayo advises that keeping pace was only possible through the true partnership and support that TravelManagers has between its national partnership office and personal travel managers (PTMs).
It was possibly one of the biggest years in the company’s history with the sign up of its 550th consultant, a new partnership with Luxury Escapes and the introduction of a 24/7 network assistance programme – just to name a few.
While on the outside it may seem as though the home-based group has achieved all that it could achieve this decade, Chairman Barry Mayo tells us there’ll be no slowing down anytime soon.
In fact, 2019 looks as though it may be another jam-packed year as TravelManagers plans to introduce more state-based workshops, attract new PTMs, rollout front/mid-office system enhancements and more!
Find KARRYON‘s full Q&A with Barry Mayo below and find out what’s in store for TravelManagers in 2019:
Welcome to 2019! Last year was a big one for TravelManagers with reaching 550 consultants, entering new partnerships & introducing 24/7 network assistance programme – how will you top all this in 2019?
We will focus on the individual needs of our personal travel managers (PTMs) and as unique business partners, we will continue to add value to their business, personally and ultimately their clients.
The TravelManagers business model is one of a true partnership, and we will be diligent and support all our PTMs needs and challenges whether they have been with us for 10 years or 10 minutes. We know if our PTMs are successful, TravelManagers the company will be successful.
What are some of the brand’s top priorities in terms of overall growth & individual personal travel manager support?
Top priorities include developing internal processes and enhancing systems to assist PTMs to work ‘smarter not harder’ freeing up their time to spend more time with clients or on business development.
Our focus will also be on assisting PTMs to achieve organic growth and improved productivity. We will implement additional locally state based workshops to guide PTMs to think more strategically and maximise the use of the marketing tools at their disposal to more effectively execute marketing campaign activity.
Additional specialist corporate training will be introduced providing best practice examples to assist existing SME/Corporate PTMs and new PTMs wanting to maximise their opportunities in this market segment.
As mentioned earlier, you signed your 550th consultant last year – how do you hope to grow this in the coming year?
As the saying goes “If it ain’t broke, why fix it!” We will continue to implement our strategies that have worked successfully in 2018 and previous years, with 2019 being a year of refinement.
Last year you were also the first in the industry to team up with Luxury Escapes – how has the partnership helped personal travel managers’ businesses?
The Luxury Escapes target market aligns well with TravelManagers for those clients looking for more personalised service.
In the past, many clients would book directly with Luxury Escapes not expecting their PTM to be able to assist with the advertised products. With PTMs now actively promoting this relationship it has allowed the creation of customised itineraries (featuring auxiliary requirements such as flights, insurance, pre and post accommodation and other activities) in conjunction with the Luxury Escapes products providing clients with the best of both worlds
Have they received Luxury Escapes-based enquiries that they’d previously had to have turned down?
Our PTMs would always offer alternative options, but now having the ability to book Luxury Escapes product it limits the opportunity lost significantly.
Technology is always changing, and apparently, voice will be the next big thing for Australia – is TravelManagers looking at ways to work with this trend before it potentially becomes a threat?
TravelManagers constantly monitor technology enhancements. As new technology solutions such as ‘Ask, Siri’ and ‘Hey Google’ are refined and increase in sophistication, they will, without doubt, assist OTAs.
However, TravelManagers’ PTMs do not operate as ‘traditional travel agents’ – they customise travel arrangements (business and leisure) to suit individual client specific needs, are available 24/7 to respond to an emergency or the unforeseen. It will be a long time before Voice technology can replace this level of service and certainty, however, voice search will have a role to play in how TravelManagers will engage with consumers and potential clients via its central consumer website.
In the meantime, many clients still prefer to view all of their booking information on their devices, a service enhancement TravelManagers introduced via its personalised PTM/client APP in 2015.
What tech advancements can we expect from TravelManagers over the coming year?
There are a number of front/mid-office system enhancements and improved Intranet that commenced development in 2018 and will come online in 2019. These enhancements and improved functionality are designed to upgrade the efficiency and productivity of our PTMs and assist with both PTM and NPO support costs.
Last year, TravelManagers became the first to introduce 24/7 network assistance programme for consultants – I understand you can’t go into too much detail but how have Agents embraced the offer?
Overall the feedback from the network has been extremely appreciative with 18 people undertaking Network Assistance Programme sessions since it commenced on 1 September 2018. Many of our team have indicated the programme has been beneficial with one PTM at a recent state meeting publicly stating they had used NAP and found the support very helpful.
How has it impacted overall group mentality?
The NAP has, without doubt, been a positive addition to our business offering and partnership support. Many PTMs have family members or friends facing mental health issues and they view this initiative as a positive example that their business partner understands the impact personal situations can have on their lives and that they care.
Since its introduction, we have received accolades from PTMs and industry partners that it is a highly valued initiative and it is now an integral part of our overall business.
Finally, what do you think will be the biggest challenge consultants will need to face over the next 12 months? And what will be their biggest strength?
It’s hard to limit to a single biggest challenge, the industry is constantly changing and therefore brings a multitude of challenges:
- Securing recognition of the value the PTM provides as their client’s advocate from consumers current perception of a travel agent
- Articulating the value of PTM knowledge, experience and skills and what this adds to their client’s experience in terms of designing travel arrangements and delivering real service
- Not becoming complacent. Regularly adjusting to a constantly changing market place and maintaining a high level of personalised service with passion and conviction while consistently adding value
- Staying relevant to the market, trends and emerging markets. When we look at trends this past year, we’ve seen a slowing down of growth in the US but an increase in sales for Europe. PTM’s need to dedicate some time to self-education, researching markets and trends, attending cluster meetings and webinars and also getting out on as many famils as possible to new destinations so that they are fully equipped to deliver on clients’ travel requirements
- The weakening AUD which has hit a 10 year low against the USD and also weakening against other major currencies. This has been offset to some extent by low international airfares and increased capacity
- Election year in Australia could impact companies which in turn could affect corporate travel spend. The election could also affect self-funded retirees and investors in the property markets which in turn could affect consumer confidence and travel spend
- Wellbeing – running your own business can be empowering and liberating, but often PTM’s find themselves working longer hours during certain times of the year which can take its toll. PTM’s need to be aware of this and take steps to alleviate these stresses, keep accountable and motivated
Biggest strengths for 2019:
- Being their clients’ advocate
- Being part of a specialist national network that truly supports their business
- Their individual and collective expertise and knowledge. Our network average for PTM industry longevity is 20 years
- Support from fellow PTMs and NPO providing opportunities for training, education, marketing, fares and business relationships
- Being in control of their individual businesses
- READ: Travel group tops off 2018 with celebrations
- READ: Stacey Farnham becomes home-based agency’s 550th
- READ: Find out who WON BIG at the TM Gala Night
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