Travel Counsellors has reported its best year to date as its agents evolve into ‘tour organisers’.

The organisation said sales for the 12 months to October 31, 2015, were 12% up. It also revealed a 21% increase in the number of travel counsellors globally achieving more than £1 million in sales for the same period. There are now 53 ‘TC millionaires’.

Of the 1,440 travel counsellors globally, including 900 in the UK, 685 reported their best-ever sales months between November 2014 and October 2015.

The figures were released at the organisation’s star-studded annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre, which had the theme ‘Doing The Right Thing’ and was attended by more than 1,400 delegates.

Managing director Steve Byrne attributed the 12% rise in overall sales to the success of the group’s in-house selling system, Phenix, which enables travel counsellors to put together their own packages.

“The main message is we have moved from being travel agents to being tour organisers. Travel counsellors are sourcing more product direct and creating their own itineraries from core providers rather than third-party providers,” he said.

In 2015, more than £115 million of sales were booked through Phenix, representing almost 36% of all the organisation’s sales. Just over a quarter (26%) of travel counsellors booked more than half their sales through the system.

Not all sales currently go through Phenix, as bookings with third-party suppliers fall outside the system.

Byrne hopes the share of sales through Phenix will increase from 36% to 60% in 2016 as more content is added and the system is developed to make it easier to use.

But he stressed the group would continue to work with traditional operators. “There is still scope for operators to grow their business [with us]; Phenix will not be able to fufil every need and we always want to offer what is right for the customer,” he said.