Is­sues and trends

Travel Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

Trav­elbul­letin’s Q&A with Hel­loworld CEO Andrew Burnes last month made for in­ter­est­ing read­ing. He clearly has a vision for the busi­ness, some­thing not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent un­der his pre­de­ces­sor, and is cer­tainly bullish about its po­ten­tial. But then you’d ex­pect noth­ing less. I had to chuckle though at Burnes’ as­ser­tion - some might call it spin - that Hel­loworld doesn’t need “turn­ing around”, a phrase jus­ti­fi­ably used in a ques­tion posed by this pub­li­ca­tion. Call me picky but I’d have thought any busi­ness with deep­en­ing fi­nan­cial losses - $1 mil­lion for the first six months of the year - needed turn­ing around. Be that as it may, you knew where Burnes was com­ing from when he said the “hard yards” of the re­brand­ing have been com­pleted and now was the time to “reap the ben­e­fits” of that work. What par­tic­u­larly caught my at­ten­tion was Burnes’ plan to launch more Hel­loworld prod­uct. His ra­tio­nale is un­clear but it’s a prom­ise he has al­ready de­liv­ered on with the launch of New Zealand and Pa­cific Is­lands prod­uct for Sunlover Hol­i­days, a sig­nif­i­cant strate­gic shift for a brand syn­ony­mous with do­mes­tic breaks. But it’s a slightly cu­ri­ous move given those des­ti­na­tions are well catered for through Qan­tas Hol­i­days and Viva! Hol­i­days, and no doubt pre­ferred part­ners of Hel­loworld. There is noth­ing wrong with a lit­tle in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion of course, but there is surely a risk of can­ni­bal­is­ing sales here. It re­mains to be seen what other prod­uct will emerge. But re­ports sug­gest it will be Hel­loworld-branded, rais­ing the ques­tion of whether the com­pany is eey­ing a more ver­ti­cally in­te­grated ap­proach to its busi­ness. Flight Cen­tre has be­come the mas­ter of keep­ing it in the fam­ily – the growth of Infinity Hol­i­days is tes­ta­ment to that - and maybe Burnes is at­tempt­ing to play Skroo Turner at his own game. Such a game, how­ever, is far eas­ier when you own the stores, as Flight Cen­tre does. It can, and does, in­struct con­sul­tants what to sell in a way Hel­loworld sim­ply is un­able to given the in­de­pen­dent na­ture of its re­tail mem­bers. That said, if Hel­loworld’s fully branded, as­so­ci­ate and af­fil­i­ate mem­bers are truly buy­ing into the brand at a re­tail level then wide­spread sup­port for Hel­loworld-badged prod­uct may fol­low. Speak­ing of Flight Cen­tre, Burnes was riled re­cently by his ri­vals’ at­tempt to lure agents to a new partnership pro­gram. Burnes’ de­scrip­tion of Flight Cen­tre in the trav­elbul­letin in­ter­view as “our friendly com­peti­tors in Bris­bane” was com­i­cal in its in­sin­cer­ity, and de­lib­er­ately so I have no doubt. Frankly, it was good to see Hel­loworld come out swing­ing as Burnes did when he de­scribed the Flight Cen­tre ini­tia­tive as “disin­gen­u­ous”. A more ob­jec­tive view might sug­gest it was a smart move by FLT to se­cure more sales. And that, af­ter all, is what it’s all about.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.