This year’s two day National Travel Counsellors Australia Conference in Melbourne was a celebratory weekend of collective catch up’s, learning’s and inspiration.
The ‘My TC’ Conference was a celebration of 10 years operations in Australia with 230 agents (TC’s), suppliers and head office staff heading to the Victorian capital city where it all began.
>> Catch our our full event wrap here.
What did we learn? Read on for our lucky 13 takeaways from the event below.
1. Train to lose
Multi medal winning Olympian and Aussie icon Anna Meares shared her amazing story of riding to Olympic greatness and her journey of triumphing over adversity after she was hideously injured in a race fall.
Whilst she won an incredible 11 medals in her career, she also lost 29 – and it’s those losing experiences she says “that taught her the most about resilience.”
“Success isn’t about remaining undefeated“ she says, “It’s about learning to lose and get up. There are no guarantees, but it should never stop you from trying.”
2. Steve Byrne wears his heart on his sleeve
If you’ve ever heard Global CEO, Steve Byrne speak to a crowd, you’ll know that when he does – People listen.
A proud son of Manchester (UK), Byrne lives and breathes the company’s ‘caring’ mantra and engaged and inspired TC’s over the weekend with his vision for the company and his downright passion in driving success for everyone.
By his own admission though, he’s also petrified about the thought of coming face to face with any of Australia’s most dangerous animals. Good job the conference was in Melbourne and not the Northern Territory Steve!
3. Travel Counsellors don’t advertise
You may be surprised to learn that aside from trade communications, Travel Counsellors spends zero ad dollars advertising to consumers.
Whilst the individual TC’s manage their own promotions and Social Media accounts, their motto is ‘repeat bookings and referrals wins all’.
And when you’ve got TC’s like double award winning Matt Schmitz from Melbourne delivering epic customer service that goes as far as packing his clients bags for them, who needs advertising anyway?
4. Fred loves Australia
Fred van Eijk is Travel Counsellors interim Managing Director in Australia, based in the company’s head office in Melbourne.
Born in Amsterdam, he’s been with the company for almost 12 years in Europe, and founded both the Netherlands and Belgium TC operations before coming to Oz three months ago.
Already this land has had a profund effect on him with van Eijk saying, “He’s here to stay”.
5. An updated TC App
All TC customers have access to the free ‘My TC’ Apple and Android app for them to manage their travel needs before, during and after a trip.
And the app has been updated again, with the facility to take online payments from clients as well as deliver real time flight status, Social logins and Optional Geo location tracking to especially help corporate clients coming soon.
6. Qantas are ‘still’ making us cry
As a major sponsor of the weekend, Adele Sheers (Qantas Manager National Agency Development) updated TC’s on some of the airlines latest initiatives including the highly acclaimed online Learning hub and the soon to launch non-stop Dreamliner service from Perth to London.
Cue playing the latest and brilliant ‘Feels like home’ ad and cue a flood of tears to go with it from the audience.
Thanks for that, sniff, sniff, Qantas.
7. 10 pioneering Travel Counsellors for 10 years
It was 2007 when Travel Counsellors first came onto the scene in Australia.
10 years later and still in the business, 10 of the original pioneering agents got up on stage to be recognised and thanked for taking the plunge at the start.
Some of them also appeared in guest panels on stage over the weekend to share their experiences with their fellow TC’s.
8. Fiji is so hot right now
With an impressive set up in the supplier networking area, Fiji Tourism and a range of hotels and tour products brought the colour, warmth and smiles to the TC’s on what was a freezing cold weekend in Melbourne.
From the chance to sip some kava, grab a selfie with a buffed Fijian warrior or win yourself a prize and a goody bag, all you had to do was follow your nose to the fragrant coconut area to fill up on some Fijian lurrrve. Vinaka Fiji!
9. TC’s actually have their own Counsellor
It’s not easy working on your own. At times it can be lonely and challenging running your own business, even with bags of ongoing support from TC and all those near and dear, and in TC’s case, other TC’s too.
So to help TC’s through any blue days, Travel Counsellors have recruited their own actual Counsellor in Australia – Monika Polemics, who will be available for all TC’s to help them should they need her advice.
TC’s already have 24/7 access to online mindfulness and wellbeing video classes via the groups in-house TV channel ‘TC TV’.
Sharing her own personal story in her presentation, Head of International, Julie McGowan said, “If you’re struggling with something, never understand the healing power of talking to people.”
10. Duty of care in action
Based in their head office in Manchester, TC have their own ‘Duty Office’ set up to cope with crises that can affect TC travellers globally. Via technology the office communicates alerts and updates as to the current state of affairs, anywhere in the world.
Early on the Sunday morning, news was filtering through to the conference of the major incident in London as it was breaking and already TC’s were proactively answering queries from their travellers either already in the UK region or about to embark on a trip.
11. AUS$12m invested into Phenix technology in 12 months
Phenix is Travel Counsellors in house GDS/online wholesale system that enables TC’s to book products anywhere 24/7.
Incredibly the company have spent AUD$12m on it this year and employ 90 technical engineers to work on the system continually.
The group’s vision is to create a world class system to “get them as close to the product and pricing as possible.”
“There’s no other travel company that can offer this blend of technology and support” said Steve Byrne in his address.
12. Word of mouth is best
With a world leading NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 96%, word of mouth is still the best form of sourcing business.
According to the groups Director of Sales, Jim Eastwood, Customers are 4 times more likely to buy after a referral with 77% of consumers likely to buy a product from a friends review.
Based on those statistics and going back to point three, why would Travel Counsellors need to advertise?
13. A family gathering not a conference
In closing the conference on Sunday, interim Managing Director Fred van Eijk said, “This is not a conference in a traditional sense, its a family gathering”.
You hear the word ‘family’ banded about a fair bit in the travel industry. But when you see agents getting up on stage, welling up and sharing their heartfelt thanks to the support team as they did at the awards night, and then gifting the entire team movie vouchers and a night out on them it takes on a whole new meaning.
Were you there? What learnings did you take from the weekend?
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