Rob Beecher Rob Beecher

Agents’ success proves 'demise' false

The ‘demise of the travel agent’ is a fallacy, says Rob Beecher, Global Travel Network director.

 

Speaking at the company’s third and largest yet annual conference, in Taupo last weekend, Beecher says some GTN members had only started operating in the past three to four years and were already driving four to five million dollars in business. ‘We are going to grow with them,’ he says, noting the exponential growth already shown in the company’s short history. ‘We began trading in January 2016 and this year we are holding New Zealand’s biggest independent travel retailer conference, with 100 travel agents and 39 suppliers representing 23 companies. ‘So far this year, to August, our business growth is up 46% on last year, and last year it was up 96% on the year before, in terms of annual turnover. We now have 90 retailer shops and 40 brokers; we also deal with some overseas operators.’

 

Business sustainability was the theme of this year’s conference, and Beecher says finding your niche is key to this. ‘Sustainability is about knowing your business and finding your niche. Many of our agents are niche, be that through cruise, or their specific nationality. Each market is different, they each sell different airlines and they have different trading partners, there is no one size fits all.’ A word of caution came from Chris Lethbridge, Emirates, who told the conference that operating a sustainable business has become a challenge for everyone in the industry. ‘In EK we are constantly challenged by increased costs across our network,’ he says, listing other challenges such as political issues, low margins, trade wars affecting the China market, and negative attitudes from local communities towards increased tourism numbers. ‘We are a robust industry but we can’t take growth for granted’, he says.

- By Kathy Ombler 

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