While 2019 was a big year for Travel Counsellors, 2020 promises to be even bigger! As the Regional Managing Director of Travel Counsellors, Kaylene Shuttlewood is at the helm of the Australian business, leading the head office team as well as more than 115 Travel Counsellors running their own travel businesses from home across the country.
Kaylene’s got some predictions for the year ahead, but first let’s take a look at the year that was. Here are her highlights of 2019:
1. New office space “In 2019, the Travel Counsellors head office moved into a brand new office space in Melbourne. A new fit out has given us room to grow, which has allowed us to expand our team and offer more support to Travel Counsellors located around Australia,” says Kaylene.
2. Conference success The 2019 annual conference was held in Adelaide, with 230 people attending. Each year, the conference gives Travel Counsellors a chance to come together to reflect on the previous year, celebrate the wins and get revved up to take their business to the next level in the year ahead.
3. Productivity gains “We rebuilt the head office team with a real focus on improving efficiency and productivity. A new supplier relations manager was appointed and she has built closer relationships with key suppliers and partners. Because of her hard work, we’ve been able to expand our product range, which helps our Travel Counsellors offer more choice to customers and ultimately, sell more trips,” says Kaylene.
4. Travel galore Over the past year, a bounty of trips were on offer to Travel Counsellors via famils and rewards trips, giving them a chance to see new places, have different experiences, then bring all that knowledge home to use in their business and share with other Travel Counsellors.
“In 2019, we ran an incredible amount of incentives, challenges and promotions for Travel Counsellors. We gave away more trips than I’ve ever seen given away, in any organisation I’ve ever worked in before,” says Kaylene.
5. Stronger protection In 2019, Travel Counsellors upped the ante with enhanced cyber security education and fraud protection.
“We put a new approved supplier process in place. This new process gives Travel Counsellors confidence that we’re using reputable software and suppliers, and doing everything we possibly can to protect the customer - and the Travel Counsellor - from fraud,” comments Kaylene.
6. Focus on crisis management The duty office crisis management team play a crucial role in the business, so in 2019 Travel Counsellors focused on ensuring the team were well-resourced, in order to respond rapidly to help any customers who find themselves caught up in global events.
“Natural disasters and events like volcanoes, blizzards, airport strikes and bushfires are monitored very closely by our crisis management team who work round the clock. We monitor all our customers around the world. In the event of a natural disaster or crisis we ensure they are accounted for and help them change their travel plans if necessary. This gives both our customers and Travel Counsellors peace of mind,” says Kaylene.
Looking ahead to 2020...
Having worked in travel for decades, Kaylene is adept at spotting travel trends. She believes that these five will be big for Travel Counsellors in 2020 and beyond:
1. Adventure travel in demand “These days, customers are looking at capturing that memorable “Insta-moment” during their travels,” says Kaylene. Because of this, Travel Counsellors are seeing more and more bookings for adventure holidays that involve activities like trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, kayaking past glaciers in Antarctica and walking the Camino in Europe.
2. Focus on sustainability Kaylene has witnessed a sharp rise in travellers wanting to minimise their environmental impacts while globetrotting. “More and more clients are asking their Travel Counsellor if they can offset their carbon footprint when booking their air travel. They also want to know what their hotel is doing about sustainability. We look to provide our customers with all the information they need to book with confidence, knowing they are staying at a hotel or travelling with a company that minimises environmental impacts,” says Kaylene.
3. Boutique luxury growing While the large luxury hotel brands and travel companies aren’t going anywhere, Kaylene believes that more customers want premium, boutique options also. “To give our clients lots of choice, we’ve incorporated premium boutique hotel brands like the Mr and Mrs Smith product range into Phenix, our in-house quote and book system,” explains Kaylene.
4. Personalisation on the rise Kaylene believes that travellers are increasingly turned off booking via an impersonal agent who takes a one-size-fits-all approach and large, aggregate websites that often have hidden fees and lengthy terms and conditions. Instead, travellers want personalisation from the very beginning of the holiday booking process.
“Travel Counsellors are able to build personal relationships, because they are genuinely invested in matching the right travel product to their customer’s unique needs. They’re also backed up by best-in-market technology such as Phenix and the myTC app, so Travel Counsellors really stand out by offering a highly personalised travel booking service,” says Kaylene.
5. Cruising to continue its reign
Kaylene predicts that the strong interest in cruising we’ve seen the past few years will continue in 2020.
“There’s so much choice when it comes to cruising, particularly with new ships coming into play and entering the Australian market. One of the things that we do really well is help Travel Counsellors find their customers the perfect cruise, right down to matching them to the right ship and cabin, depending on their budget,” says Kaylene.
Cruise training, workshops, famils and onboard days all give Travel Counsellors the knowledge, inspiration and confidence needed to match the right cruise to the wide range of Australian’s who like to cruise, including retirees, young honeymooners, and multigenerational family groups.
__To find out how you could make a start with Travel Counsellors, get in touch with our Career's Team for a confidential chat on 1300 889 123 or complete this contact form. __