Independent travel agency consortium The Travel Network Group has vowed to keep trying out new membership models to grow the scale of its business.
Addressing 300 delegates at the group’s annual overseas conference managing director Gary Lewis admitted not all of its attempts to forge models had been a success but that it was important the group continued to test new membership propositions.
A disabled franchise was a “complete failure”, said Lewis, although the consortium has not ditched the concept of franchises and is working to further establish one in luxury travel.
Adeona Travel has one new member – it now has two branches in Cheadle Hulme and Sheffield – and Lewis said the Travel Network Group was open to approaches from other high street agents who feel it is right for their business.
Other initiatives to grow membership have proved more successful, in particular the setting up of homeworking division Independent Travel Experts which “is thriving”, Lewis said.
This group now has 85 members while the Travel Trust Association has added 48 members and Worldchoice 13, because of the network group’s diverse membership proposals, he claimed.
“The world has moved on, it does not wait for anybody. We as a consortium cannot wait. We are unique as a consortium.
“We have the ability to issue licences to meet the Package Travel Regulations. No other consortia does that – it’s a way of solving problems for our members. We need breadth and depth so we can demonstrate to our business partners we are thinking about bringing in people to the business.”
Another initiative, the Travel Network’s Group own dynamic packaging platform Honeycomb, was an example of how the group was providing solutions for its members, Lewis said.
“We are making sure we allow our members to take a advantage of opportunities that present themselves.”
Lewis said Travel Network Group chairman Simon Hargreaves had insisted the group owned its own technology so it could control products and net rates and allow members to manage margins.
“Other consortia are talking about this now, but it’s too late. We have already done this,” said Lewis.
In total 400 agent members are using Honeycomb and the system has had new accommodation product and suppliers like Eurostar added. It aims to have 55 by the end of this year, up from 20.
Lewis said enhancing the system was a key development project for 2013 and that a web version would be launched to allow members to offer it on their website to customers.
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