Weekly Wrap – 18 February

Myles Stedman wraps the week in the travel and cruise industry.

HAPPY Saturday everyone – this time last week I was stepping off Viking’s beautiful Viking Orion in Lyttleton, New Zealand, getting ready to head home into what ended up being a massive week of news.

This week the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) drip fed the industry another morsel of information about one of the most popular topics around the water cooler in this young year – the relocation of the National Travel Industry Awards from Sydney to Melbourne.

Palladium at Crown was announced on Thursday as the location for this year’s NTIAs, with the venue to receive the return to Melbourne of the travel industry’s night of nights.

Crown Melbourne is a fixture on the Australian major events calendar for many high profile nights throughout the year, including the AFL’s Brownlow Medal and cricket’s Allan Border Medal, but on 18 November it will be graced not by sports superstars, but by travel luminaries.

First on AFTA’s event calendar this year though is next month’s Women in Travel Summit – and Sydney has not let this one get away, with Hotel Swissotel to play host to the full-day event.

AFTA this week exclusively revealed to Travel Daily the program for the highly anticipated Summit, with session 1 to cover how the travel industry can best support women in the workplace, and session 2 to explore industry best practice into the future.

Session 3 will highlight strategies for professional development, and will feature keynote speaker Chelsea Pottenger, the founder and Director of mental health and wellbeing business EQ Minds.

Following this, attendees will choose between two interactive breakout sessions – “Alpha Confidence”, which will discuss unlocking the secrets to elevating your personal branding and speaking with confidence; and “Goal Setting & Visualisation”, which will teach strategies to assist in achieving work and personal goals.

However the event calendar cannot be touched on this week without harking back to last weekend’s National Product Showcase hosted by Travel Associates in Brisbane, with the city no doubt keen to show off its event capacity to Sydney and Melbourne.

The Showcase was the first to be held in four years for Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) luxury agency network, with more than 200 travel advisors and close to 70 partners converging at the W Brisbane.

The event also served as a coronation for Travel Associates as the “golden child of the company”, following its strong 12-month financial results.

Among the lofty achievements for Travel Associates was being Flight Centre’s highest-performing pillar for leisure by the end of Dec, as well as making a return to pre-pandemic sales results with only 55% of staff volumes.

FCTG Global Managing Director Luxury and Independent Brands Danielle Galloway revealed the division has managed to increase its margins and average booking value significantly over the past 12 months.

There was plenty to celebrate for Corporate Travel Management this week too, with its latest financial update showing it has doubles its TTV for the first half of the financial year, when compared to the previous corresponding period.

The business recorded a TTV of $4.19 billion for the first six months, a significant jump on the $2.08 billion posted in the first half of the 2022 financial year.

Underlying EBITDA also rose by 182% to $51.3 million, while importantly the underlying net profit after tax moved into the black from a $400,000 loss to a $22.1 million surplus.

CTM said it is expecting a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the following financial year, which it noted would be well in advance of the International Air Transport Association’s projections for travel activity.

Chief Executive Officer Jamie Pherous attributed the result to continued client wins and retention as well as “significant known large account wins”, which will begin activity with CTM in the coming months.

The week in cruise saw Ponant formally welcome Chris Hall as Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer, and work begin on expanding the cruise line’s presence in the region through newly created departments and an increased headcount.

The expansion began against the backdrop of Ponant’s celebration aboard Le Commandant Charcot, with an evening of festivities held on the ship as she docked in Lyttleton this week in-between Antarctic expeditions.

Swan Hellenic also partnered with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in Australia this week, joining as a regional member.

The partnership brings Swan Hellenic into CLIA’s wider Australian cruise community, made up of lines from around the world, as well as agent members from across the country.

With positive news from CLIA and other industry associations this week, such as AFTA, it is clear the industry is handing the massive updraft in demand the right way – through togetherness – and on that note, have a great weekend all!

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