HITTING a century in any sense is worth making some noise over, but amidst it all, The Travel Corporation (TTC) is busy planning for the next 100.
TTC will mark 100 years of operation this August and kicked off the celebrations with a series of promotions and incentives across its brands and will be sharing memorable moments from the family owned business’ history regularly throughout the year.
But it’s not all about the celebrations, with the driving force behind the company’s direction, Global CEO Brett Tollman, telling travelBulletin he was not taking anything for granted.
“In this very interesting, challenging, dynamic fast-changing environment and world we live in, one never wants to take anything for granted, one can’t rest on one’s laurels.
“If you want to be around for the second hundred years, you certainly need to ensure that you’re very clear and focused on changes in consumer behaviour and continue to innovate one’s business, whether you are in travel, retail, airlines, automobiles, or whatever.”
He said the next 100 years would see TTC continue to hone on three key areas: being “high touch, high team and high tech”.
High touch refers to the experiences travellers have on TTC brands are what people are looking for.
Tollman said this ranged from “more immersive experiences to more personalisation and customisation, to ensuring our messaging is as compelling as it can and needs to be in order to explain those points of difference and then, that we’re doing them in all the right channels.”
Running a business which is “high team” involves recruiting, retaining and training “some of the best and brightest in the industry,” he said.
“I personally don’t believe, and our family don’t believe, that good service can be done by anything or anyone, but great people.”
Next up, remaining “high tech” means ensuring technology continues to evolve and serve the customer needs.
“Technology can help make life easier for you,” Tollman said.
“We do believe, with our trade partners that the easier it is to work with us, the more business we can get,” he said, reiterating the business remained 100% committed to a trade-centric and trade-friendly approach.
Tollman highlighted a need for trade partners to innovate and move faster to change their business models and engage the next generation of travellers, with TTC seeing a shift in consumer behaviour for its youth brands.
“We’ve just seen [young travellers make] a very strong and fast move away from our trade partners in the last couple of years from Contiki and Busabout,” he said.
“Everything’s mobile today and people want to do everything on that phone and if you as an agency aren’t there, or we’re not there, it will go elsewhere.”
The technology focus extends to the trade, with TTC working on a travel agent portal which is set to go live early next year for Trafalgar, Insight, Costsaver, Luxury Gold and Contiki, with Uniworld to remain on a separate platform.
The ability for flights to be booked within TTC’s websites and booking engine is also being tested for Contiki, with the option to be rolled out to other brands by September.
The company is also introducing the ability for Contiki and Insight Vacations travellers to pre-book optional experiences on the brand’s online portal.
TTC will also continue to invest in sustainability efforts, with Tollman revealing the company has plans to become carbon neutral and invest more of its profits into TreadRight foundation over the next decade.
The company is currently undergoing internal analysis of its flight miles and expects to release a science-based plan in July or August this year to become carbon neutral before 2030.
It is also undergoing a multi-million dollar solar project, which will see solar panels installed in many TTC offices, buildings and hotels around the world, reducing the company’s reliance on the grid and alleviating pressure on local networks.
“We’re doing it here in Sydney at both Alexandria and Bondi Junction offices, we have a number of installations underway in Los Angeles, so we are looking to become electricity-neutral per se within many of our key offices within the next several months,” Tollman told travelBulletin.
Tollman reiterated his support for the Australian industry and market, admitting AAT Kings had been hit hard by the downturn of people who hadn’t travelled to Australia in December and January due to the bushfires.
“We’re certainly pushing hard in all our markets to reiterate that the best thing you can do if you’re concerned about Australia and how you can help, is get on a plane and come visit,” he said.
Locally, TTC is set to see a leadership handover this year, with Uniworld Managing Director Fiona Dalton set to take the reins as the new CEO on 2 October, after she returns from her sabbatical to complete her MBA.
TTC Australia’s current CEO John Veitch, will stay on until April and then, until Dalton starts, Lorraine Sharp will be returning to TTC as interim CEO until October.
Tollman said Dalton’s capability “covers a wide range of areas including strategic, general and financial management, coupled with strong communication, negotiation and commercial acumen.
“Teamed with Fiona’s strength and passion about the impact of effective leadership on businesses and leading people, both in relation to culture and commercial success, this will all be instrumental in her successful leadership, our relationships with agent partners, and to take Australia to new heights.”
Tollman also assured that Brexit would not have an impact on Australians travelling with the company.
“From an Australian market perspective, the important thing people need to know is that whatever the case is, Brexit is going to mean nothing to a traveller.
“I think more than ever that economy is going to depend on tourism,” he said.
“One thing for sure is that Britain is going to be open for tourism and therefore an Australian visiting the country from a visa standpoint or an ease of entry is not going to be a problem.”