Travel Associates 2019 showcase

THE Travel Associates 2019 Showcase touched down on the Gold Coast last month, with The Star welcoming 280 travel agents and support staff and 46 industry partners to the event.

The Travel Associates brand, part of the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), has seen significant growth following the closure of the Cruiseabout and Escape Travel brands last year, which saw 50 stores transition to the Travel Associates brand.

The boutique premium leisure brand now has 96 wholly owned businesses, 21 franchise businesses and over 400 staff and is “performing above market and expected to end the year with double digit growth,” Travel Associates General Manager Danielle Galloway told travelBulletin.

Galloway confirmed the brand would continue to eye growth, but emphasised it was important to secure sustainable growth with suitable partners. Key to this, is finding the right advisors, she said.

“We only select the very best advisers to join the family as this is fundamental to our success and delivery to the customers,” Galloway explained.

Echoing Galloway’s sentiments, FCTG General Manager of Product & Marketing Anna Burgdorf explained to travelBulletin that “one of the things that has been obvious with our expansion in size is that we really need to work on getting more of the right advisors into our stores”.

“We’ve got a sensational, large network of people through the group, but it’s about us attracting and retaining the right advisor.”

Burgdorf said this advisor would ideally have 10 years’ experience in travel, a core group of clients that would come across with them and they would know how to look after their customers.

Celebrity Cruises and Azamara White Party and Silent Disco on the opening night of the showcase.

“For us, it’s sustainable growth or expansion, not a need to really quickly grow, because that won’t benefit the model that we’re establishing,” she added.

Along with sustainable growth, the company is currently focusing on several core areas, all of which are built around the customer.

In product, Travel Associates is working to expand its Aspire range, which initially launched a year ago focussing on hotels, but is now growing its cruise offering.

Galloway said the collection of exclusive, curated holiday packages was “designed to increase the customers’ experience throughout their whole journey and add more value than ever before”.

Specialisation for its agents in order to better serve the customer is another focal point, following on from the August launch of cruise-specialised stores, Cruise Boutique, which had been going “extremely well”, Galloway said. “We have received an excellent response from our customers, partners and the whole industry.”

Another key area for Travel Associates is loyalty, with Galloway adding: “with our focus on loyalty and connection that underpins the brand, we are looking at greater customer preferencing and targeting to acquire new customers and reward the loyalty of our existing network through the introduction of a new CRM system”.

In the technology space, the company has also recently released its own app.

The annual showcase is in its sixth year and was designed around the themes of Creating Connections and Designing Experiences, with agents given the chance to hear from and connect with the group’s partners.

Attendees were treated to two lavish social events across the showcase, with Friday night allowing a taster of what sponsors Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises have to offer, with the lines hosting an Azamara White Night Party with a Celebrity Cruises Silent Disco — exclusive events to these cruise brands.

This was backed up by a “touch of wild” themed farewell dinner on Saturday, sponsored by Adventure World, which saw the venue broken up into four spaces, each decorated and themed to represent a different part of the world that the operator visits.