WITH 400 Personal Travel Managers (PTMs) and suppliers gathering at Perth’s Crown Towers last month, the 2019 TravelManagers conference was set to be their biggest annual conference to date and it certainly delivered to expectations.
Taking place over three full days, the conference program was packed full of supplier sessions, keynote addresses, networking and as is customary, awards and entertainment to boot.
The theme this year was “customer” with a focus on every facet of the word.
And while a focus on the customer may not be necessarily new, those that serve the multiple needs of customers up and down the value chain best are prospering and TravelManagers is no exception.
Speaking with travelBulletin at the conference, TravelManagers Chief Operating Officer Grant Campbell spoke of the network having achieved “double digit growth over the past 10 years.”
Campbell did concede that over the past 12 months growth had been “pegged back a bit” but that it was “only natural that those percentage growth figures will reduce a little as you get bigger and are measuring off a larger base,” he added.
The network membership continues to grow with Campbell saying the group is aiming at 600 PTMs by the end of 2019 with the intention to hit 700 members within the next couple of years.
“You don’t want to grow too fast; you need to ensure your growth is manageable and sustainable and the 700 target is reasonable without compromising the services we deliver to our network,” he said.
And what is it about the TravelManagers network that entices members to join? travelBulletin spoke with several PTMs and discovered a common thread that binds them.
PTM Laura Jacks from Melbourne conceded she’d “spent a lot of time trying to find the right place” in the travel industry and “kept getting referred to TravelManagers as they’ll adjust to your lifestyle and cater for the needs you have with your family.”
Similarly, PTM Katie Heard of the Mornington Peninsula said “I was out of the industry for six years and decided I wanted to get back in but there was no way I wanted to go back into a retail store, so a friend of mine recommended me to join TravelManagers.”
“The model is perfect for me as the job has been able to work around me,” she added.
Referrals only come when you have a high degree of customer satisfaction and they have the added kicker of being one of the cheapest and most effective forms of viral marketing for a brand.
It was evident how proud the network was of its brand with many still basking in the afterglow of their recent win at the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) for Best Mobile Travel Advisor Network. Members of the National Partnership Office and PTMs were all too willing to talk up this achievement.
Asked how she’d recommend TravelManagers to someone that was considering a home based model, Erin Beckford of Port Stephens opined “we’re the best, we just got voted number one home-based agency network at the NTIA, so why would you want to go anywhere else?”
Perhaps PTM Simone Fraser of Wandin North in Victoria summed things best by enthusing that “the TravelManagers conference gives you that energy, it takes coming to conference each year to show you this is where you want to be.”
“For people that want to make choices that are best suited to their needs, have a really good look at the model and don’t let fear hold you back,” she said.
In 2020 the TravelManagers conference heads to Hamilton Island with Christchurch as the location for the 2021 event.