Leading independent agency Travel Counsellors has highlighted the importance of going above and beyond for their agents and customers in the wake of the report on the recent TCF (Travel Compensation Fund) board meeting about the current state of the travel industry.
The company, which launched an operation in Australia in 2007 and has 90 agents operating in the country, with a further 1,100 agents operating their own travel businesses from home across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa and Canada, claims that the secret to success is providing the most innovative tools, technology and support to their agents so that they can focus on providing the very best service to their customers, with a key issue being financial protection.
“The report from the TCF revealed that last year there were 228 unprofitable agencies,” says Travel Counsellors Chairman David Speakman. “However we believe the future of travel belongs to those that build relationships and trust with their customers, and we are dedicated to supporting them in every way we can to enable them to do this. This includes our focus on issues such as financial protection. We are committed to going further to ensure all customer money is financially protected where there are gaps in the statutory arrangements in each country. It’s yet another point of difference that shows our dedication to our agents and customers.”
This follows Travel Counsellors announcement earlier this year that it would reimburse its customers that were affected by the collapse of Air Australia and did not have relevant travel insurance. In 2004 the company launched its own customer Trust in the UK in order to ensure that its agents could provide a full financial guarantee to their customers, and in several markets the Company operates a voluntary arrangement through a Trust account to complement any existing statutory legislation, in order to offer its customer’s wider financial protection. Travel Counsellors is now looking to implement such a Trust in Australia, which alongside the TCF (Travel Compensation Fund), when implemented will extend the financial protection it offers to customers.
Speakman continues; “We are constantly looking at ways in which we can support our agents further and ensure they provide the very best service to their customers. It has proven a recipe for success – as a company we have achieved a world-leading customer satisfaction score* and our financial year sales in Australia were up 14% on the previous year, with the average earnings per Travel Counsellor increasing by nearly 20%.”
Most significantly the company is continuously developing its in-house dynamic packaging system Phenix, which enables its agents to quickly and easily search and compare different travel options in a matter of minutes and tailor-make travel to suit their customer’s individual requirements. Developments include the integration of its innovative customer management system which enables the company’s Travel Counsellors to access a host of customer information and easily convert enquiries into bookings using one system, saving them time and resources, whilst further enhancements have been made to make Phenix even more efficient and content rich.
Speakman adds; “Our agents enjoy the flexibility and cost benefits that working from home offers, but that is just one part of it. You also need to provide an intense level of care for your customers and if you do that your physical location is irrelevant. In a world that now demands personal recommendation and specialist insight into every journey our agents are given the support to build these personal relationships with their customers so they can tailor travel to suit their individual needs, whilst having access to the very best booking technology and a worldwide network of colleagues who can share first-hand knowledge across the globe. So whilst there are reports of many agencies struggling in the current climate we are proud that we can offer those within the industry with a passion for travel and the desire to provide the very best service to their customers a promising future as part of Travel Counsellors.”