Launched in 2006 by directors Andrew Minto and Georgette Southam, Home and Afar Travel is located at The Junction, an affluent inner-city suburb of Newcastle, NSW’s second most populated city.
During COVID the company consolidated two stores into a single operation, while working to successfully retain the vast majority of its highly experienced staff. Like many travel retailers, Minto and Southam also looked for creative ways to unlock new revenue streams – the answer, in their case, was to transform half of their agency into a stylish homewares shop, Home and Afar.
"As we emerged from the pandemic, we saw an opportunity to build on the success of our new homewares store and give our travel business a fresh start by rebranding it as Home and Afar Travel,” says Minto. “It was the perfect time to shed our old skin and move on to an exciting new chapter.”
As part of the process, the company also decided to look for an agency network that would best fit its new business model.
“What impressed us about Travellers Choice was how proactively they worked throughout COVID to make sure their members came through the other side,” says Minto. “Their agents told us they were there for them, and that says a lot about the group’s culture, as well as its capacity to adapt in order to meet its members’ needs.”
Minto says he was also drawn to Travellers Choice’s digital marketing support and unique technology solutions. In particular, the TC One booking platform, which enables members and customers (via a B2C booking engine) to book accommodation, car rental, attractions and transfers through a single interface.
“TC One adds an extra element to our business by ensuring we always have access to the best rates and making it easy for customers to book online, while still allowing us to manage their booking and provide support at any stage.
“In addition, it empowers our agents – the majority of whom are now working remotely – to manage their own businesses.”
Travellers Choice General Manager Sales Nicola Strudwick welcomed Home and Afar Travel to the group's national network.
"It's encouraging to know that the support we provided our members during COVID is being recognised across the travel retail sector, including by long-established, high-calibre businesses such as Home and Afar Travel," says Strudwick.
"More importantly, those agents understand that our exclusive travel technology and digital marketing platforms - which we further enhanced over the past two years – are precisely what they require to drive their business success in today’s 24/7 trading environment."