Travel company championed by Trustpilot users with £1bn target
A travel agency ‘is back on track’ to hit its £1billion revenue target despite its revenue being ‘on track’ erased ” during the pandemic.
Travel Counselors CEO Steve Byrne has revealed how the past two years have had a “profound impact” on the industry and the business as he struggles to “stay true to our values as we face the toughest times. more difficult”.
In an exclusive interview with BusinessLive, Mr Byrne also said the company still expects to be a “massive success story” and return to “double digit” sales and profit gains.
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The company has a network of more than 2,000 independent travel consultants who offer personalized support reservation service for leisure and business.
Based in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, they use the company’s technology platform to run their own travel business.
The company, which has been championed by users like Trustpilot, was founded in 1994 by David Speakman and is now headquartered in Trafford City.
The business has won several Queen’s Awards and is currently backed by Vitruvian Partners, which has a stake in Sykes Holiday Cottages and Trustpilot. His previous investments include Just East and Skyscanner.
On the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business, Mr Byrne said: “We were an incredibly successful business with double-digit sales and profit growth for over 15 years before the pandemic.
“Second, the pandemic had a profound impact on the travel industry and on ourselves.
“What we tried to do was make sure that even though we were going through the most difficult times, we stayed true to our values.
“We have made sure to continue to take care of our customers and have done our best to continue to support our employees.
“Their income, alongside that of the business, had been wiped out during the pandemic.
“The workload was still high due to the number of cancellations and changes we had to deal with.
“We have invested in a wellness fund and mental health services as well as constant communication.
“By staying close to our customers and staying true to our values, we have always had the hope and belief that once the pandemic subsides, we will bounce back strongly.”
The company is now trading about 30% above pre-pandemic levels and saw record sales in February and March this year. its earnings are expected to be above 2019 levels for its current fiscal year.
The rise in sales was partly due to pent-up demand following the easing of restrictions on international travel. It’s a bump that the company’s counterparts have also been pointing out in recent months.
Mr Byrne added that while the rise in demand will continue, it will start to subside over time.
He said: “The pandemic has made people work differently and more and more people are working flexibly while people are also appreciating the time they can spend with family and friends because we’ve been through it. private.
“Travel is the way for people to come together and have brilliant experiences.
“I think there will be, for some time now, people who value travel as long as they can afford it.
“Company clients also understand the need to see people face to face and appreciate that.
“Beyond that, the pandemic has reminded people of the benefit of having someone looking after your trip who you can trust and who will be there for you if things need to change.
“They give you that time, care, and guidance, while saving you all that work and doing all the planning for you.”
Travel Counselors has pledged to spend £7m to develop its technology, which the CEO was quick to praise the company’s private backers for.
He said: “Our backers have been key to this. We have a long-term relationship with them and we’ve been through a lot together over the past few years.
“We want to make sure we are benefiting our customers now and showing all the good things we can do together over the next three to five years and beyond.
“Right now, we are fully focused on supporting our customers and employees and improving the platform we provide.”
The CEO added that the business is back on track to achieve £1billion in revenue over the next four to five years, having been able to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.
Regarding the future of the business and the challenges it currently faces, he said, “Our aspirations for the business are no different from what they were before the pandemic. It’s just that it will take us a little longer.
“We still expect to be a huge success based here in the North West because of the way we do business and the way we take care of our people and our customers.
“We are looking at how we can continue to invest in the business to improve the support platform we provide to enable our people to grow their businesses.
“The care that the travel consultant gives to his client gives him opportunities and we must unleash his potential and his productivity.
“Our business model is based on loyalty and referrals. We don’t have High Street stores, an online booking tool and we don’t advertise to generate revenue.
“We take care of the client first and foremost so that they come back to us and are then referred to their family and friends.
“Our biggest challenge is to make sure that we continue to improve so that we can take care of more customers.”