Qantas Holidays and Viva! Holidays have reported a “massive surge” of inquiries following the decision earlier this week by The Travel Corporation (TTC) to abruptly terminate Creative Holidays.
Following news of the Creative closure (which formally takes place at the end of this month), Qantas Holidays managing director Peter Egglestone reported a 50% spike in inquiry calls. He said Qantas Holidays’ call centre team had continued to deliver a premium support service to agents throughout.
Qantas Holidays staff took more than 1600 calls from existing and new customers in the day following Creative’s closure, Egglestone said. That represented “a 50% surge on our usual volumes and our call centre team did an incredible job to answer those calls within an average timeframe of three minutes”.
“Our focus on and investment in customer service excellence certainly came to the fore and I’d like to congratulate every one of my team on a job well done.”
Initial reports suggested that 100 staff stood to lose their jobs at Creative, a company which for over 30 years has been one of Australia’s highest profile travel names. It now seems that many of the Creative Holidays team are likely to move to Creative Cruising, Adventure World or other units of the business. There’s also the possibility some talented staff may move elsewhere, places like GTA or Excite Holidays.
TTC chief executive John Veitch said the tough decision to axe Creative followed “an exhaustive review of the brand”.
“The fiercely competitive environment in which we now operate has made for a difficult business proposition for a mass generalist FIT independent wholesaler such as Creative Holidays, hence we have reached this sad conclusion.
“We see immense growth opportunity in cruising and niche specialist FIT operations, so our aim is to redeploy as many of the Creative Holidays team as possible into Creative Cruising and Adventure World, as well as other areas of TTC.
“We are currently working through this process with those whose roles have been impacted. It is absolutely our number one priority to look after our people.”
Creative had been under pressure for some time. Its problems worsened when Flight Centre, at one point the prime customer, decided to launch its own wholesaler, Infinity Holidays. Flight Centre agents steadily departed Creative and flew off into Infinity – or at least, made their bookings through Infinity.
Helloworld agents used their inhouse wholesaler, Qantas Holidays – and Qantas Holidays gained further business at Creative’s expense after Creative decided to ditch its tech provider Calypso and create a new platform.
Industry observer Martin Kelly observed this week that Creative’s new multi-million-dollar tech build – carried out in India, 8000km from Sydney headquarters – “has been a waste of time, money and energy”.
Writing in Travel Trends, which has a strong tech base, Kelly wrote: “Then there was the parallel shift to a multi-channel strategy, distributing direct to consumers in addition to agents. Travel Corporation believed that the Creative brand had resonance with consumers and could stand alone.”
Not so, evidently.
While Creative is due to close down on 31 December 2015, its website was still advertising specials with Singapore Airlines yesterday: Perth to Phuket AUD 845, Melbourne to Singapore AUD 865. The main web page defaults to the agents’ login page.
For some reason, just before Christmas tends to be a time when companies sometimes suddenly close.
“It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” the old saying goes, and Qantas Holidays is doing well from the Creative closure.
Egglestone said he anticipated the increased call levels would continue following the disruption in the market.
“We are moving quickly to add resources to our team so that we can continue to provide the exemplary service and support that Qantas Holidays and Viva! Holidays are known for.
“Creative Holidays has been a formidable competitor for over 30 years and we are very sorry to hear of the decision to close the business. Their presence has shaped the market and provided the continuing imperative for the ongoing evolution of the sector and our business.”
Written by Peter Needham