Newell’s Travel is to move from Abta to the Travel Trust Association’s managed services proposition, Worldchoice Plus.
But Gary Lewis, chief executive of TTA parent The Travel Network Group, said the set-up of the transfer was “unusual and different” to other models.
Describing it as an “entrepreneurial solution to meet Newell’s specific needs”, Lewis said it would give the 10-branch southwest miniple access to the TTA’s managed services plan but with “more management time”.
This will involve the TTNG’s retail director Julie Pinkney helping to run Newell’s shops and drive its business, still reporting into owners Roger and Helen Hawke “for control”. Pinkney will do this in addition to running TTNG’s seven owned retail stores.
A new company, Newell’s Travel Group Ltd, was registered at Companies House last Monday (October 19), with Lewis, TTNG chief finance officer Vim Vithaldis and former chairman Simon Hargreaves all listed as directors. Hargreaves has been running the technology migration for all Worldchoice Plus members for the past two years.
Lewis explained the new company had taken a “small stake” in Newell’s Travel.
“We set up a vehicle to overcome the complexities quickly,” he explained.
Lewis added: “We are effectively providing far more than just a membership services proposition to Newell’s. This is clearly doing something different, but we have members and non-members talking to us all the time about possible solutions through this crisis.
“They have all got their own challenges and it’s about how they manage the risks over the next 12 months.
“Newell’s Travel is a highly-respected business and one of our large retail members. It is essential that we can be as entrepreneurial and flexible as possible for any member that comes to us seeking support and solutions, especially in the current climate.”
Roger Hawke, owner of Newell’s Travel, said: “I’m happy to announce, that as of today, we have moved into a Managed Service Plan with The Travel Network Group and this comes with many additional benefits. Firstly, all bookings will be protected under the Travel Trust Association’s trust account structure where there is a greater level of protection.”
He continued: “This partnership also comes with the Worldchoice Plus Managed Service Plan. This enables TTNG to manage the shops and drive the business, which will allow [my wife] Helen and I a more flexible working schedule.”
Lewis explained: “Under the normal Worldchoice Plus membership, our team manage the back-office functionality for our members. At the start of this year, we implemented a strategy to add another layer of TTNG support for retail shop members, through the new Managed Service Plan. This new initiative can be tailored to meet our specific retail members’ needs.”
By becoming a Worldchoice Plus Member, Newell’s Travel will switch its technology platform from its in-house system Garfield to The Travel Network Group’s managed service technology and migrate all bookings onto this new platform. Training will be given to all Newell’s Travel team members at the beginning of November.
Hawke said: “I think this new partnership is a great fit for us both, as TTNG already operates seven of its own high street shops and has the same ethos as us. Under this new membership with TTNG, I know the Newell’s Travel name will continue to flourish for many years to come.”
Lewis also confirmed that TTNG’s acquisition of the Global Travel Group from dnata Travel UK was “slightly behind the deadlines we were working to” but said: “There’s a huge amount being done and commitment from both sides to get this deal delivered. We are keeping Global members updated and we’re very excited about it.”
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