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What Qantas and others could learn from TravelManagers

My local post office is run by a man who worked at Qantas for over twenty years. And like many of us, he understands what Qantas has had to endure through the pandemic but also understands the uphill battle it now faces after slashing its staff in order to survive.


That hill is not so steep for House of Travel’s TravelManagers. Here’s why. 



Speaking at the annual TravelManagers conference, House of Travel chief operating officer Grant Campbell explained how at the outset of the pandemic TravelManagers had “no choice but to make significant cost reductions” to ensure its survival. But it set some strong limits. 


“Whilst we took as an aggressive approach as we could to reducing these costs, we were very cognisant of the fact that we needed to continue to invest in certain elements of our business to ensure that we could all recover from the unprecedented stresses being placed on every area of the business for when the pandemic eventually eased,” he said. 


There’s an army strategy that is analogous to a travel company surviving COVID, he shared. Basically, you hold in reserve the most capable individual in each division of the army to ensure you maintain the ability to rebuild no matter what happens on the battlefield. 


“Maintaining capability when facing an uncertain future is absolutely critical.”


“It’s never ever easy letting go of a team member, and especially given how long the pandemic went for, it would have been much easier from a cash flow perspective to let go of people,” he told the Personal Travel Managers.  


But according to Campbell, whilst letting go of people would have secured cash, the company saw that being able to retain the knowledge, expertise and professionalism of its team “would avoid the business being at a disadvantage when business started to recover”.


The company, impressively was thus able to retain 95 percent of its National Partnership Office (the folk who support the company’s Personal Travel Managers). 


Whilst it’s still not easy in the light of ever-changing airline schedules and cancellation issues, a myriad of covid rules that continue to change in terms of international travel, “we are much better equipped to handle these challenges than many of our industry counterparts who made redundancies to reserve cash flow”, he said. 


“We are happy to take the difficult road if it means that it’s going to be worthwhile in the end.”


And it has indeed proven worthwhile. 


August 2022 has been the company’s best-ever August for total sales. But “August wasn’t just a record sales month”, House of Travel chief executive Joe Araullo said at the conference. 


“August was also a record month for average sales and commission per PTM and the eighth-best month in the company’s history.”


So I guess hanging on to that knowledge and experience paid off in the end.


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