About Travel Counsellors
Founded 26 years ago, Travel Counsellors, the UKs largest network of independent travel agents has transitioned over the last five years from being owner-run to private equity backed, firstly by Equistone, in a £100m transaction where under Equistone’s ownership, the business was professionalised, the leadership team bolstered, and the company doubled in profit. Since then in 2018, Travel Counsellors was acquired by Vitruvian Partners, the private equity firm behind investments such as Skyscanner and Just Eat in a £250m transaction. With Vitruvians financial backing and wealth of knowledge and experience of business change and digital transformation we aim to propel Travel Counsellors toward even more greatness.
The company’s mission is to transform the travel experience for customers and the lives of its travel counsellors. Travel Counsellors’ aim is to ‘scale with intimacy’. The leisure market in the UK alone is a £6bn business, and Travel Counsellors is confident it will achieve impressive, profitable growth under its new owners with aspirations to become a £1bn business with profits of £40m in the short term, with longer term aspirations to reach £3bn+.
Supported by our colleagues in our head office and global support teams we have an impressive network of nearly 2,000 self-employed Travel Counsellors globally. The company operates in seven countries today: the UK, Ireland, South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and the UAE. Travel Counsellors is a disruptive platform that connects a global community of travelers with expert, self-employed travel advisors, who specialise in creating bespoke travel experiences for their customers and is as disruptive now as it was when founded 26 years ago ‘Gig economy’ before the phrase was invented.
In an environment where consumers are losing trust in brands, Travel Counsellors differentiates itself through building trust and intimacy with customers – 20% of customers meet their travel counsellor (TC) in person while the rest speak on the phone.
The business provides the technology and support platform to empower talented, ambitious entrepreneurs to change their lives and scale their own businesses, providing unlimited earning potential, increased flexibility and a highly personal and bespoke level of service. At the heart of the business is its people and the unique sense of community that the company nurtures across its territories, using its support platform that combines the very best talent with constantly evolving in-house technology. The result is a global, digitally connected group of hundreds of caring professionals sharing knowledge, support and expertise to provide their customers with the best travel experiences possible, achieving a customer recommendation level of 96%. All of this is achieve using a mix of off-the shelf and bespoke technologies in the core Technology platform, on a 24/7 basis.
A combined and ‘hands on’ role that sits across operations and transformation with a specific focus on change and shifting the business on a pivotal journey towards a ‘self-serve’ support environment. There are several elements to the role:
- Running the day to day of the contact centre whilst bringing about change. Providing line management, support and coaching teams including triage, operations and aftersales
- Working with the transformational leaders to align with our digital transformation and implementation of new operational technology as we shift towards a ‘self-serve’ support environment.
- Continuously looking for ways to improve processes with a goal to heightened efficiency and automation
- Implementing new innovative ideas to further aid the company’s disruption of the traditional agency model by enhancing the existing platform which currently supports over 2000 Travel Counsellors in seven countries.
- Working with the training and development teams to build self-serve training and support for this.
Taking a strategic role in the leadership and management of Travel Counsellors, you will play a pivotal role in driving pace and innovation throughout our operational contact centre in line with our strategy. We’re aiming to digitally transform our business, improve service quality, cost-effectiveness, operational success, improve our support systems and create high performing teams and environments, therefore it is essential that you’re passionate about people/ process development and improvements, and are dedicated to improving the overall customer experience.
Reporting to our CFO and working closely with the Director of TC Engagement you will be responsible for shaping, driving, developing and executing both strategic and operational plans for Travel Counsellors, ensuring conformity with all relevant legal and statutory compliance and you will be comfortable operating with small and large change initiatives to improve the overall business performance.
Customer Success and the whole customer journey is at the heart of the Travel Counsellors business model therefore a fundamental priority, it’s key to our growth and long-term success. By working closely with, and taking the views of our most valuable assets (in our case our Travel Counsellors) we will embark on a journey of change, altering the way we work operationally to produce the maximum results whilst retaining, and continuing to protect our company’s DNA and protect the special culture we operate here at TC.
Over the past decade, digital channels continue to grow at a progressive rate, closing the gap on traditional enterprise customer care and service. Digital messaging has overtaken the need to talk, as more and more customers admit to texting more than they talk on their phones. Where our TC’s have previously used a small number of single channels to call us they now want and need more as they are opting to use a variety of channels depending on geographical territory, age, and other preferences dependent upon their capabilities. We know we must adapt or be left behind.
We’re looking for a Digital Transformation Lead to drive the ongoing digital transformation of our Contact Centre, support systems and the booking process. We are seeking a strong leader who can embrace change and make constant improvements to the way we do things. We are particularly interested in those individuals known for coming up with new, inspiring ideas with a proven track record of moving businesses away from a traditional contact centre function.
The fundamental question is simple, how do we retain the human and personal feel that we’ve operated for so long at TC as we start to invest in breakthrough technologies and experiment with more artificial intelligence, chat-bots and move towards a more ‘self-serve’ support function, in an ever changing, fast paced digital world which is rapidly gaining pace?
It’s inevitable that we require much more flexibility in our approach, moving away from the traditional single channel, single communication style. We want to invest in ideas and technology that will be useful and not harmful to our business and what better way to develop and grow our business and brand than to bring our Travel Counsellors (our users and representatives) and their customers on that change journey with us, helping them to understand the rationale behind our business decisions and closely manage their reactions to change.
Core Accountabilities and Responsibilities
- Ensure both major projects and ‘business as usual’ projects are resourced to maximise business impact
- Develop and implement an innovative, growth focused Operations strategy based on operational efficiency & effectiveness to meet the expectations and requirements of the Travel Counsellors and their customers globally.
- Engage with all areas of the business to identify and gain a better understanding of the end to end customer journey and operational objectives then making suggestions to create a suitable framework that improves the customer experience.
- Attend Senior Team Leadership team meetings to translate and communicate changes across the business.
- Driving the strategy for the Operations department, constantly driving for improvements and efficiencies across multi-channel platforms.
- Work across all areas of the business, with stakeholders at all levels, to identify opportunities for Customer Experience improvements and actively promote action to instigate initiatives which bring those improvements to fruition.
- Maintaining up to date knowledge of the marketplace, our competitors and trends.
- To direct and oversee the delivery, operation and support of all products, processes and systems offered by the business ensuring that agreed service levels are met across all delivery channels.
- Be a role model for Travel Counsellor values, creating and encouraging a culture of learning where everyone can flourish, perform and achieve
- Identify opportunities and drive a culture of continuous improvement.
- Thoroughly understanding our customers/target audience to ensure their needs are being met
- Conducting customer satisfaction reviews, market research and analysis and producing business plans/recommendations to ensure that all business process opportunities are optimised.
- To champion innovation and fresh thinking across the business.
- Working with colleagues to drive operational consistency and cultural alignment across the wider business.
- Proven experience in a Head of Contact Centre / Head of Operations role with experience of managing, motivating and developing a large or multiple contact centre team (ideally above 20 FTE).
- Must have digital contact centre experience
- You will have several years proven multi-functional Customer service focused leadership experience and a demonstrable track record gained within a multi-channel function, at a similar level
- It is essential you have a minimum of 5 years’ experience in a senior contact centre role, with technical knowledge of contact centre systems and digital applications.
- Those individuals with experience of running operational projects, Business Process Engineering and Lean Transformation will have a distinct advantage.
- You should also be an effective manager of people with excellent leadership skills and the ability to motivate and develop the staff.
- You will have been part of a team that delivers world class customer experience which has gained outstanding results.
- You will have knowledge of service and quality management methodologies, stakeholder management skills and the ability to maximise revenue opportunities.
- We operate with pace at Travel Counsellors, so you’ll need to be comfortable working in an agile and fast-paced
- Experience of leading large teams through change
- Experience of getting the best out of others and comfortable with delegating and empowering others.
- Previous experience of working within an entrepreneurial based business where you have demonstrated your ability to develop new products and exploit growth opportunities.
- Graduate with at least a 2.1 or upper-class degree, preferably with a further professional, training, coaching or business qualification.
- Relevant Project Management Qualification
- Great leadership and organisational skills, able to manage and deliver multiple products and projects simultaneously against tight deadlines
- The ability to identify/define and problem solve
- Comfortable operating strategically at Board level
- Experience in operational management
- Budgetary planning and management experience
- Ability to work under pressure, manage your time effectively and work on your own initiative.
- Excellent analytical, decision making and problem-solving skills.
- Self-motivated, ambitious and determined.
- The ability to develop and execute Operational Excellence across the business.
- Strong empathy for customers AND passion for revenue and growth
- A charismatic, confident yet humble leader
- You will not be afraid to use your voice to challenge or reinforce the status quo
- Naturally positive, engaging and collaborative with the ability to take people with you to deliver a vision
- Open and curious, willing to test new avenues that seem to offer viable alternatives
- Comfortable with ambiguity, flexing constantly in a rapidly changing environment
- Keen to make decisions using data
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment and can balance long and short-term challenges
- Ability to translate strategy and creative ideas into action plans
- Able to drive the idea of using digital technologies to maximise impact on our operational success.
- Genuinely interested in how customers and tech interact, now and in the future
- You will be innovative, forward thinking, and customer focused.
- We’re powered by people at Travel Counsellors and exceptional interpersonal skills are required for this role, championing our caring approach for our colleagues, customers and communities.
- Ability to think ‘outside the box’ and develop alternative strategies to resolve customer issues