travelBulletin

Travellers Choice surges ahead

Almost six months on, the Travellers Choice team is still basking in the glow of the group’s inaugural “Best Travel Agency Group” 2015 National Travel Industry Awards win back in July.

travellers choiceAlmost six months on, the Travellers Choice team is still basking in the glow of the group’s inaugural “Best Travel Agency Group” 2015 National Travel Industry Awards win back in July. The energy and excitement at the network’s recent conference was palpable, and travelBulletin spoke to managing director Christian Hunter about the latest developments within the organisation.

Customer experience is a key driver for Travellers Choice, according to Hunter – and those customers include traveller clients as well as the group’s member-shareholders across Australia. Hunter, who was recently promoted from ceo to Travellers Choice managing director, said the conference saw the launch of four key initiatives which aim to help members ensure their clients have the very best experience they can.

The first of these is a “digital managed services” offering, which allows agencies to fully outsource their website, social media, database management and email communications. “We know for many members their time is best spent selling, and dealing with the increased traffic that comes through an enhanced online presence,” Hunter said. As small business owners many agents find it difficult to be across all of the latest developments in this area and the managed service option solves this problem for them.

In conjunction with this there’s a new website solution for Travellers Choice members. The group’s corporate site has been revamped and redesigned to reflect the latest cross-platform protocols meaning it works on any device from a desktop to a tablet and a smartphone. It includes a new ‘meet an agent’ function, social media integration and a better structure to provide a more intuitive user experience. Based on this, the Travellers Choice site builder platform now also offers each store its own responsive website – and other key digital moves include a Facebook application which allows consumers to search for their nearest Travellers Choice agent, using “location services,” without leaving the social media platform.

Training is also central for Travellers Choice, with the group now housing all training materials and tools from its preferred suppliers in a eLearning Library portal on the in-house Extranet. And finally there’s a new HR partnership which offers members assistance with human resources within their businesses. Developed in response to member feedback, the new HR toolkit includes contract templates, checklists for occupational health and safety and more to help agents ensure they are meeting all legal requirements. Created in partnership with Australian Business Consulting & Solutions, the new HR resources are available to all members at no additional cost.

Hunter said the conference theme of “Leading the Way” was particularly appropriate, with Travellers Choice continuing to enhance its offering for members. He said the initiatives launched during the conference significantly boost the Travellers Choice value proposition for independent travel agents, citing a “virtuous circle” in which supporting and training member agencies leads to higher sales of preferred products which in turn makes more resources available for the company’s head office to support members – at the same time providing “amazing returns to members”.

Despite the challenges of increased competition and digital disruption “we are also entering a time of opportunity,” Hunter said. More and more Australians have passports, there is plenty of airline capacity and outbound travel is forecast to increase significantly over the next decade. “We are operating in a growing market sector, with a growing customer base,” he said, with all indicators pointing to a strong future for the group.

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