Trav­el­man­agers go­ing from strength to strength

Travel Bulletin - - ISSUES & TRENDS -

One of the most strik­ing as­pects of last month’s Trav­el­man­agers an­nual con­fer­ence in Bangkok was the en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm of the agents in at­ten­dance. More than one sup­plier re­marked dur­ing the event that they par­tic­u­larly en­joy the Trav­el­man­agers con­fer­ences be­cause the mem­bers, who are ef­fec­tively home-based small busi­ness­peo­ple, are so clearly en­gaged with their busi­nesses. That means they are gen­uinely in­ter­ested in sup­plier of­fer­ings be­cause in most cases as soon as they’re told about a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct they have a client al­ready in mind who will be in­ter­ested. The scale of the con­fer­ence was also a sur­prise, with the event sup­ported by seem­ingly scores of head of­fice em­ploy­ees from Trav­el­man­agers’ Na­tional Part­ner­ship Of­fice – also known as the NPO. In­deed three-let­ter acronyms (TLAS) abound in the Trav­el­man­agers ter­mi­nol­ogy, with in­di­vid­ual mem­bers known as PTMS (per­sonal travel man­agers) – or cruise spe­cial­ist PCMS (per­sonal cruise man­agers), all of whom are looked af­ter by state-based BPMS (busi­ness part­ner­ship man­agers). Dur­ing the con­fer­ence gen­eral man­ager Michael Gazal con­firmed the group had reached a 500-mem­ber mile­stone this year, mak­ing it “Aus­tralia’s lead­ing and largest per­sonal travel man­ager net­work”. The com­pany also high­lighted the ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of its mem­bers, who have on av­er­age more than 20 years in the travel in­dus­try. De­spite con­tin­u­ing to re­cruit, this fig­ure is not ex­pected to change, with in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence a key de­ter­mi­nant of whether a new mem­ber will be ac­cepted into the or­gan­i­sa­tion. The Bangkok con­fer­ence had the over­ar­ch­ing theme ‘Ad­ding Value,’ and marked the cul­mi­na­tion of a big year dur­ing which sev­eral key de­vel­op­ments were im­ple­mented in­clud­ing a net­work-wide up­grade to the Tra­mada Nextgen back of­fice sys­tem, a new in-house SPLASH ‘ag­gre­ga­tor of ag­gre­ga­tors’ ac­com­mo­da­tion search and book­ing sys­tem fully in­te­grated with Trav­el­man­agers cus­tomer pro­files, and the launch of the Trav­el­man­agers smart­phone app. Del­e­gates were also thrilled to be given a sneak pre­view of a new Trav­el­man­agers web­site which will launch shortly – in con­junc­tion with a new “lovethemed” video com­mer­cial which can be cus­tomised with a call to ac­tion for each in­di­vid­ual mem­ber. Mem­bers can man­age their own on­line pro­files, with the site in­clud­ing a neat map-based fea­ture al­low­ing them to show­case their per­sonal trav­els. Mar­ket­ing man­ager Jodie Ban­bury said the cam­paign would “po­si­tion Trav­el­man­agers to con­sumers as the most ex­pe­ri­enced travel net­work in Aus­tralia”. The con­fer­ence wasn’t all busi­ness, how­ever. Mem­bers en­joyed sev­eral fun net­work­ing events in­clud­ing an open­ing night can­dle cer­e­mony at the Re­nais­sance Bangkok ho­tel venue, and were also able to make a con­tri­bu­tion to Bangkok’s needy through a visit to one of the city’s big­gest slums. This ac­tiv­ity was co­or­di­nated by char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion Hands Across the Wa­ter, with the group’s in­spi­ra­tional Aussie founder Peter Baines ad­dress­ing the con­fer­ence prior to the visit. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he de­scribed the in­spi­ra­tion for the char­ity which was born from his in­volve­ment as a foren­sic ex­pert with the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice iden­ti­fy­ing bodies in the af­ter­math of the 2004 Box­ing Day tsunami. Head­ing into the slum the Trav­el­man­agers del­e­gates were bro­ken into five groups, each of which un­der­took dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties such as paint­ing a pre-school, gar­den­ing, mak­ing toys and re­pair­ing tri­cy­cles used by dis­abled peo­ple who live in the slum. As well as help­ing with the day-to-day needs of res­i­dents, the visit cer­tainly raised aware­ness of the poverty and squalor in which the lo­cals live and also in­cluded a prac­ti­cal do­na­tion from Trav­el­man­agers to cover the cost of all the ma­te­ri­als used. The con­fer­ence wrapped up with a gala din­ner where top per­form­ers were show­cased, while GM Michael Gazal also an­nounced that the 2017 Trav­el­man­agers con­fer­ence would take place in Dar­win.

The com­pany also high­lighted the ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of its mem­bers, who have on av­er­age more than 20 years in the in­dus­try’ travel

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