Travel Counsellors has seen 45% growth in its homeworkers using destination management companies (DMCs) to make bookings this year.
Louella Fisher, head of purchasing and partnerships, said DMC bookings had seen “phenomenal growth”.
She encouraged delegates to further push the use of DMCs, as well as Phenix – the company’s own in-house booking system – and “our valued partners”.
Fisher praised Travel Counsellors’ personalised approach and said to retain that same bespoke “feeling” throughout the whole customer experience “we need to use more of our own tools and have ownership of the whole journey”.
“Our DMCs are our trusted partners on the ground, they are our experts and they will give the care to your customers that you give,” she said.
Promoting the company’s Phenix system she said Travel Counsellors can earn “significantly more” when using it to sell a package compared to when acting as a typical retail agent (and using other third-party suppliers).
Fisher also outlined new product soon to be available to the company’s members. In the cruise sector there will be more experiential offerings such as long-haul river cruising and American steamboats, while for land-based travel, the Philippines and US roadtrips will be added before Christmas.
In terms of direct contracts, Fisher said there would be more four-star hotel product – mostly in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean – plus “personal touches” at the company’s top 50 hotels. These might include spa discounts or a breakfast in bed.
Fisher explained that Travel Counsellors could also expect a 24-hour response time from DMC partners, which will be introduced in time for the peak sales periods.
Beyond these product innovations, new ideas more generally are a key focus for the business, a point proved by the creation of a digital and innovation director role last September, which was filled by Waseem Haq. In a presentation to delegates he explained about a reinvention of the “innovation board”, which concentrates on new ideas to execute within the business.
A focus group comprising individual Travel Counsellors, their customers and head office staff will give feedback on the business and an “innovation fund” will be made available to ensure new ideas can be delivered. “The only constant in life is change. We shouldn’t fear innovation,” Haq said.