TAANZ president Brent Thomas, House of Travel; James Doolan, Hotel Council Aotearoa; Malcolm MacLeod, First Travel Group TAANZ president Brent Thomas, House of Travel; James Doolan, Hotel Council Aotearoa; Malcolm MacLeod, First Travel Group

Reviving client confidence and working together top of mind as industry revives

Collaboration and confidence were the two key words at the hybrid TAANZ (Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand) Partner Forum early February.

The event attracted some 30 members of New Zealand’s travel retail and supplier community to a face to face workshop at Flight Centre head office in Vincent Street, while another dozen attendees beamed in on-line.

Flight Centre NZ’s managing director David Coombes says the meeting was symbolic of what is happening in the industry now.

‘Collaboration didn’t happen in the pre-Covid era but it is now critical and this event is about collaboration in the broader (travel) ecosystem.’

He says the crucial question is ‘how do we get our customers back and ready to travel?’

TAANZ president Brent Thomas says the meeting was testament to the ‘resilience, toughness and capability’ of those attending, having survived the last 24 months.

He says this was further emphasised by the fact that no clients’ funds have been lost by a TAANZ member since the crisis began.

‘The main reason for this is that we are required as TAANZ members to keep the client funds separate. That’s something we hold dear and it has kept us in good stead.’

Thomas says trust, flexibility and security of funds were major issues for nervous consumers. ‘This meeting is about answering those concerns.’

He notes that in the USA bookings are up with those recorded in 2019 and in some states even exceeding those levels. ‘It is happening in the UK and starting to happen in Australia. The question is, how can we collectively work together to make sure we can achieve that here?’

TAANZ board member John Willson, of First Travel Group, says the meeting was about collaboration between retailers and suppliers.

‘As an industry we need to be in charge of our own industry and give confidence back to our customers and confidence back to our staff.’

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