A TV documentary out this week is expected to highlight the positive side of working in the travel industry as it goes behind the scenes at ITC Luxury Travel Group in Chester to follow some of its jet-set clients, as well as staff.
The two-part programme, The Millionaires’ Holiday Club, will be shown on BBC Two on June 10 and 17 and was made by Plum Pictures, who have also made Inside Asprey: Luxury by Royal Appointment and Billionaire’s Paradise: Inside Necker Island.
ITC chief executive Jennifer Atkinson said: “The boss of Plum Pictures is a client of ours and was interested in taking a look at what we do. But there were several motivators as well for us in agreeing to the programme.
“As an industry, I think we’re quite undersold in the eyes of the customer - I don’t think they really understand all that we do behind the scenes, the training, the experience and the professionalism, so I thought it would be good from that perspective and prove the worth of passionate travel professionals.”
“Also, growing up in an era of Wish You Were Here, I was used to seeing aspirational travel – these days, TV travel all seems to be really ‘out there’, off the beaten track stuff, but that’s not what everyone wants to do on their holidays. I also think it showcases what a great career choice this can be for people and showcases what can be achieved with hard work,” she added.
The programme follows some of ITC’s clients on holidays to Barbados, Jamaica, India and on a cruise – taken by clients Jane and Michael who are filmed on board their 54th SeaDream cruise - while ITC staff are also seen on fam trips to the Seychelles and Thailand.
Atkinson said she was “delighted” with the outcome. “Of course opening your company up to a TV crew is a risk, but I was really pleased and relieved. It’s not groundbreaking stuff – it’s just good old escapism which I think we need at the moment.”
ITC, which bought several travel brands a year ago including Western & Oriental, Villa Select, Regent Holidays and Rainbow Tours, was originally founded in 1974 and now employs 210 people. Atkinson said its latest results showed a £3.8 million profit on £87 million turnover.
She said the company was also still on the look out for further acquisitions. “I think what we achieved [with the purchase] proves there is still appetite for growth and investment in the sector. We’ve spent the last six months looking for opportunities – for companies of significant size.”
“And in terms of customers, we see other companies looking to expand with offices in the US or the Middle East, but we still see plenty of growth here in the UK, especially around cross-brand opportunities with agents and their customers.”
She highlighted how the team in London had been moved to new offices and all IT across the brands had now been integrated.
“We have also been really growing agency sales across all the brands which has been a massively positive shift for us,” she added. “And if the TV programme can help highlight what we all do and increase business for the hoteliers featured and our agent partners then that’s also a really great thing to come out of it.”
Heading off any criticism that the TV show would be seen as just showcasing ‘lifestyles of the rich’, she said: “Too often, people are pre-conditioned to be cynical about success and snooty about people who have money and spend it enjoying themselves.
“But the clients we showcase are hard-working, self-made people who have employed many people, boosted our economy and are now just enjoying themselves when they can. I think it’s also good for highlighting how you don’t necessarily have to have a Knightsbridge office to be working in luxury.”