THE digital transformation of the travel sector has caused significant disruption to the traditional wholesale model, with technology making it much easier for suppliers to connect directly with customers. However strong growth at Entire Travel Group is proving the ongoing value of a trusted, expert advisor, as the company pursues a highly successful “multi-niche” strategy.
The last few years have seen the family-owned business grow from its beginnings as France Travel Connection to add multiple destinations and products, while still offering the same ethos of deep product knowledge and expertise in support of the company’s travel agent clientele. Destinations covered now include island luxury holidays in Tahiti, New Caledonia and the Maldives, while in Europe the business also offers specialist product in Spain and Portugal as well as barge holidays complementing its foundation France range.
A step change in the business took place in 2018 when Entire Travel Group merged with long-time Italy specialist wholesaler CIT Holidays, also bringing with it product in Switzerland. CIT had been acquired by industry veteran Peter Newsom in 2015 from the Kernot family, and while it had a great history and strong product range, was by all accounts struggling with the evolution of technology. A merger was a logical step, and after several months of intensive work last year the CIT range went live on the Entire Travel Group platform — cementing the company’s strong presence in popular destinations across Western Europe.
Integration with Entire’s technology suite has in turn seen a dramatic change in CIT’s customer service levels, with CEO Brad McDonnell telling travelBulletin that processes previously taking more than 30 minutes had been reduced to just five minutes. That’s also led to a dramatic reduction in phone wait times, which are now less than two minutes on average. The CIT team has moved into the Entire offices in North Sydney, and the business has brought new connections and preferred agreements with major agency consortia.
The growth of Entire has seen the expansion of the company’s sales and support teams, including the appointment of industry veteran Greg McCallum as Sales and Marketing Director. travelBulletin can also exclusively reveal that McCallum is so committed to his new role that he has put his money where his mouth is by taking an equity stake in the business. Entire now has a sales team expanding across the country, with representatives showcasing the full range of product — including newly released brochures covering Canada & Alaska and Switzerland.
McDonnell said Entire’s philosophy is to focus on destinations and products where its model of expert support can truly add value. “We’re not trying to be all things to all people,” he said, meaning high volume, low-yield destinations are not likely to be added to the portfolio any time soon. Entire has dedicated teams for each of its product ranges. “The French team is the French team, Italy is Italy, and so on,” he said, with this philosophy ensuring travel agents always speak to someone with deep expertise of the destination their client is interested in. Each brand also has its own website and brochure.
The company is putting its money where its mouth is, offering an extensive, generously company-funded “self-famil” program under which its in-house specialist consultants all travel annually on a ten-day educational to experience key products. McCallum said the initiative helped Entire attract and retain top staff, as well as ensuring the company’s agent partners reap the benefits from fresh, specialist expertise.
“It’s the difference between speaking to someone who ‘went there once’ and someone who ‘just got back,” he said. “Ultimately we believe that unless a wholesale company has a credible, structured program in place to ensure its consultants are getting regular on-the-ground experience then it is really just ‘talking the talk’.”