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Good to Great: Travel Counsellors Business Travel Conference report

Travel Counsellors hosted a one-day conference for its specialist Business Travel Counsellors early July, which focused on providing support to help Counsellors grow their businesses, guidance on how to safeguard and expand their client base and advice on how to adopt the tools that Travel Counsellors provides to help them do so.

The event, entitled ‘Good to Great’, brought together 130 delegates from across the company - including key head office team members and industry suppliers - at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Birmingham.


The event saw a mix of internal and guest speakers discussing the future of corporate travel and the combination of people and technology which underpins this. Key topics covered included the increasing importance of the SME market, the use of mobile technology and the rise in data and personalisation as a means to create excellent customer experiences.

Presentations and interactive sessions took place throughout the day, alongside a dedicated supplier exhibition offering insight into products and services for Business Travel Counsellors to communicate to their clients.


The event began with an opening speech from Travel Counsellors Managing Director Steve Byrne, who outlined the importance of data to inform management information and direct customer support through personalised marketing. Byrne has recently stated that technology and data combined with the caring power of people is when travel businesses really shine, and this set a strong narrative for the entire conference. “The very best businesses focus on the ‘why’ of their existence. Our why is that we genuinely care about our people and our customers, and technology is the single most tangible aspect of our business that helps us care even more.”


Byrne was followed by Paul Wait, CEO of GTMC; an organisation whose members account for more than 80% of the business travel spend in the UK. In his speech, Wait underlined his belief that the future growth in business travel will come from SME market, and that these companies will lead economic recovery in the UK – a particularly poignant point following the results of the EU Referendum just a few hours previously. He advised delegates that self-booking is set to plateau and decline, that customer experiences will soon be at the centre of business strategies.


The combination of technology and people was a theme continued by Simon Ferguson of Travelport, who stressed that business travel priorities are changing. Traveller satisfaction and the entire journey ‘experience’ have significantly moved up the priority ladder in recent years, leading to a huge shift towards traveller-centric solutions. These solutions will be driven by technology and data, but never at the detriment of people. “You know your customers better than anyone else,” he stated. “It’s the people behind the tech that bring the piece together”.


An eagerly awaited session of the afternoon was the presentation of Travel Counsellors’ new app, something the company has been working on for a number of months. IT Director Rob Snelson gave an overview of ‘myTC’, Travel Counsellors’ first app which has been developed to strengthen its core principles of customer care. The company has invested half a million in technology and talent to build the new data platform, providing agents with the information and insights to understand their clients even better. This will allow Travel Counsellors to facilitate and enhance client relationships, and will be supported by an investment in central sales and marketing materials.


Lastly, motivational speaker and blind ultramarathon runner Simon Wheatcroft discussed the ways in which he uses technology to overcomes obstacles and achieve his goals, alongside the power of people to support him. In a session which was reflective of the company’s ongoing vision to innovate and ‘never stand still’ in the corporate travel arena, he urged: “Don’t be worried by obstacles or challenges. Life is all about adapting and moving forward. Adaptability builds success.”

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