By Bruce Piper
Delegates at last month’s Helloworld Travel annual conference on the Gold Coast were given a full update on the company’s new branding, which has seen “travel” added to the company name and new logos and looks for branded, associate and corporate members of the group. CEO Andrew Burnes showcased the new logo for fully branded members which includes the former Harvey World Travel “the travel professionals” tagline – and unveiled the new Helloworld Travel jingle which simply replaces “Harvey” with “Hello” in the familiar tune.
The transformation of Helloworld Travel goes far beyond branding – although the new look (pictured) is a key element which incidentally is being paid for by the group’s head office. Burnes outlined a host of other initiatives during the conference opening session, including a complete restructure of member remuneration. The existing ‘loyalty reward’ structure, which he said was confusing, opaque and inconsistent, will from 1 July be superseded by a simplified system promising to increase agency remuneration by an average of 40%. Attendees welcomed the announcement of a change to the group’s previously exclusive preferred deal with Cover-More, which is being replaced by a new agreement as well as the addition of SureSave as an alternative insurance supplier.
Conference attendees were updated on the company’s “co-investment strategy” which was first announced at last year’s Singapore conference. Formal details of this option are now available, with HLO offering to swap 25% of shares in franchisee businesses for the equivalent value of shares in Helloworld, which would be escrowed for a couple of years. Burnes said this would enable members to “join HLO as a true partner in business” while at the same time having the security of having some business equity in a relatively liquid format.
Digital initiatives also formed a significant part of Burnes’ presentation, with the conference coinciding with the long-awaited revamp of the Helloworld website, significantly improving the online booking options and adding better flight searches, more accommodation and a full suite of static cruise content courtesy of the company’s acquisition of Cruise Factory earlier this year. The same functionality will roll out in the coming months to individual agency micro-sites, which will offer full bookability, an in-built content management system so owners and managers can customise elements and deals, and a customer relationship management database which is private to each franchisee. Helloworld’s digital ecosystem will also incorporate mobile, with agencies able to offer their own branded version of a smartphone app to clients, allowing them to make bookings on the fly which are fully commissionable back to the agency.
But there’s more – Helloworld is also launching a ‘translation’ app which offers speech recognition in 28 different languages, and will eventually evolve to be able to push destination deals to clients while they are travelling, enabling Helloworld members to earn commission on activities booked while their customers are on the road. Helloworld’s technology evolution also includes the launch of Readyrooms for Business – an accommodation portal which Helloworld Business Travel members can deploy to their corporate clients as an online booking tool.
Interestingly, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce also appeared at the conference and reminded delegates that the airline is not only a business partner but is one of the largest shareholders in Helloworld. “A very large part of the market continue to want your services – we want to help you and participate with you in growing that business,” he said. “We want strong competition in the Australian domestic market. We welcome your new brand, and we know that strong brands can outperform,” Joyce concluded.