Special Report: Travel Counsellors vows to spend £6m on technology

Special Report: Travel Counsellors vows to spend £6m on technology

Agents hear how firm is investing to boost their businesses at a series of mini conferences. Lee Hayhurst reports

Travel Counsellors has revealed it will double its expenditure on technology this year, spending the equivalent of £3,500 for each of its 1,700 agent franchisees.

Speaking to agents at a series of seven mini-conferences across the UK, Travel Counsellors chief executive Steve Byrne said the firm would invest only in technology that would benefit its agents.

Byrne said the Manchester-based business, which has 1,100 home-based agents in the UK, was determined to remain “as relevant and disruptive now as we were 24 years ago” when it was founded.

“We’ve created a business model based on customer intimacy, underpinned by the technology to help you care even more,” he said.

Byrne said the strategy had helped Travel Counsellors achieve another year of double-digit growth.
Latest accounts filed with Companies House show turnover rose by 12.7% to £150.5 million for the year to October 31, 2016, with profit before tax rocketing by 44% to £12.9 million.

In July 2016, Travel Counsellors launched an app, called myTC, designed to improve agents’ engagement with clients, and has vowed to invest in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Byrne added: “Over the past 12 months we have grown our tech team in Manchester and Cape Town to support our plans and ensure we are constantly looking at ways to improve and enhance our services and products, all with the purpose of creating an even better experience for you and your customers.”

Travel Counsellors hosted hundreds of agents at its seven mini-conferences, in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, London, Manchester and York, held in April.

Agency says app boosts conversion rates

Travel Counsellors’ myTC customer mobile app has improved conversion rates for agents, conference delegates were told.

The Apple and Android app allows customers to receive quotes, view their bookings and documents, keep in touch with their agent, and share their travel plans and experiences on social media.

Travel Counsellors said 14,000 customers had used the app since its launch in 2016 and they were 20% more likely to book compared with those using other digital marketing channels.

Digital director Waseem Haq revealed agents using the agency’s email marketing technology attracted 55% more enquiries, 60% more bookings and a 10% higher booking values.

User-generated video content was credited with helping Travel Counsellors increase Lapland bookings by 28% last year.

The agency also reported a 23% increase in cruise bookings following the launch of a dedicated online and offline brochure.

Client dashboard ‘will help agents tailor marketing’

Travel Counsellors is giving its agents access to new customer service technology that logs details about clients so agents can individualise their marketing.

The ‘customer dashboard’ has been built in-house and is being rolled out this month to the firm’s 1,700 agents in seven countries globally.

The technology has been added to the agency’s customer management system and allows travel counsellors to segment their databases on the basis of clients’ interests and previous booking behaviours.

Waseem Haq, digital strategy and innovation director, said: “We use customer data to create a profile of the customer and put measurable marketing activity, such as social media content or online destination brochures, in place so that our franchisees have all the digital tools at their disposal to truly tailor-make marketing efforts to their clients’ preferences.

“This is an added-value tool to give agents even more opportunity to build on the tailor-made service they deliver.”

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