In­de­pen­dent Travel Group “in the right plac e at the right time”

Travel Bulletin - - ISUES & TRENDS -

The In­de­pen­dent Travel Group Busi­ness Forum, which took place in San Fran­cisco last month, saw del­e­gates in the USA at an his­toric mo­ment, with the group ar­riv­ing just as Hil­lary Clin­ton con­ceded de­feat to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump af­ter the bit­ter US elec­tion bat­tle which has fas­ci­nated the world. The con­fer­ence took place at San Fran­cisco’s W Ho­tel, and del­e­gates soaked up the post-elec­tion at­mos­phere as shell­shocked Cal­i­for­ni­ans – most of them Clin­ton sup­port­ers – con­tem­plated with dis­may the next four years of a Trump pres­i­dency. The serendip­i­tous tim­ing and lo­ca­tion of the ITG Busi­ness Forum com­ple­mented a theme in the open­ing ad­dress by Ex­press Travel Group ceo Tom Man­war­ing. He urged mem­bers to look at the big pic­ture, with out­bound travel num­bers from Aus­tralia con­tin­u­ing to rise. “We’re in a growth in­dus­try, with plenty of blue skies in travel,” he said. “We are in the right place at the right time – the fu­ture is up to us to grab”. Man­war­ing high­lighted the group’s per­for­mance over the last year, with 38 new mem­bers join­ing and TTV up 18%. ITG has ex­panded from just 17 mem­bers in 2010 to now com­prise a to­tal of 268 agen­cies, while Ex­press Travel Group’s multi-brand strat­egy which in­cor­po­rates the Asia-fo­cused Se­lect Travel Group, ITG and italk­travel now to­tals 662 mem­bers, mak­ing it the “largest in­de­pen­dent travel group in Aus­tralia by a coun­try mile,” Man­war­ing said. Mem­bers of the italk­travel fran­chise group also took part in a spe­cial closed-door own­ers ses­sion at Sausal­ito where they were de­lighted to hear they would re­ceive a cash div­i­dend af­ter the division recorded a profit af­ter only its se­cond full year of op­er­a­tion. Man­war­ing told trav­el­bul­letin the struc­ture of the italk­travel fran­chise model means mem­bers each hold a “fully trans­par­ent stake” in the brand’s op­er­at­ing com­pany and there­fore re­ceive a por­tion of the prof­its. Dur­ing his ad­dress he also high­lighted ITG’S Book Safe Agent in­sur­ance pol­icy which mem­ber Max Na­jar from Axis Travel in Ade­laide com­mented was a key com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage for mem­bers. As well as key­note pre­sen­ta­tions and a sup­plier prod­uct market, the con­fer­ence in­cluded plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for net­work­ing. A high­light was a so­cial event on the first evening at the nearby AT&T Park, the base­ball field home of the San Fran­cisco Giants. The ITG del­e­gates were treated to a VIP ex­pe­ri­ence at the venue spon­sored by The Travel Cor­po­ra­tion, in­clud­ing guided tours which took in the player chang­ing rooms, a host of mem­o­ra­bilia in­clud­ing three World Series tro­phies and a visit to the on-field dugout. The fol­low­ing day at­ten­dees were treated to a pre­sen­ta­tion from Karen Ja­cob­sen – also known as ‘The GPS Girl’ – a New York-based Aus­tralian who sounds strangely fa­mil­iar, be­cause she is the voice of Ap­ple’s Siri electronic per­sonal as­sis­tant. The con­fer­ence wrapped up with a gala din­ner – cour­tesy of ma­jor spon­sor Qan­tas – which saw top achiev­ing mem­bers from both ITG and italk­travel show­cased for their per­for­mance, with a range of state­based cat­e­gories as well as awards for sales of pre­ferred cruis­ing and tour­ing prod­uct. The growth of ITG has cer­tainly di­ver­si­fied the oper­a­tions of the Ex­press Travel Group over­all, with the USA and UK among the top des­ti­na­tions sold by the In­de­pen­dent Travel Group mem­bers – in con­trast to the heavy Asia em­pha­sis of the Se­lect Travel Group. It has also sig­nif­i­cantly ex­panded the range of prod­uct sold by the group, with a host of pre­ferred sup­pli­ers in­clud­ing cruise lines, whole­salers and tour op­er­a­tors strongly sup­port­ing the con­fer­ence. But Man­war­ing is def­i­nitely not rest­ing on his lau­rels, with a vi­sion to grow his group fur­ther. He urged at­ten­dees to keep their eyes on the big pic­ture, con­clud­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion with “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.

ITG has ex­panded from just 17 mem­bers in 2010 to now com­prise a to­tal of 268 agen­cies, while Ex­press Travel Group’s multi-brand strat­egy which in­cor­po­rates the Asia-fo­cused Se­lect Travel Group, ITG and italk­travel now to­tals mem­bers’ 662

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