The Travellers Choice network's strength and resilience was on full display at a series of virtual Member Meetings this month, during which agents were briefed and consulted on the group’s ever-evolving response to the COVID crisis.
Almost 80% of Travellers Choice member shareholders took part in this year’s gatherings, hosted by Managing Director Christian Hunter and Chairman Trent Bartlett.
With the Australian government's most recent budget predicting that international travel will not return before mid-2022, Hunter says candid discussions focused on the implications for members and the group.
"Throughout this crisis, we have conducted straight-up conversations with our members about the challenges facing the retail travel sector," says Hunter. "These meetings provided another opportunity to detail the nimble and highly-adaptive way in which are continuing to develop strategies that address those challenges."
While understandably daunted by the prospect of another 12 months of travel restrictions, possibly without government support, Hunter says most Travellers Choice agents remain "remarkably positive, proactive and stoic" about their own prospects.
"One agent I think perfectly captured the general mindset when he said, 'we haven't come this far, to only come this far'. Our members are smart and successful independent agents who are determined to do whatever necessary to ensure they are around on the other side of COVID.
"In the meantime, we will continue to support our agents by keeping them informed and, importantly, ensuring they remain connected to each other, to our group and to the wider industry here and overseas.
"We will also be encouraging them to follow Winston Churchill's advice and 'never let a good crisis go to waste'. Our industry will not be the same post-COVID and independent agents have a unique opportunity to think about how they want their business positioned when travel rebounds.
“Equally, agency networks will need to respond. That is why Travellers Choice is re-evaluating everything we do, to ensure that the services and benefits we provide our members match their individual needs and guarantee that, when travel resumes, they hit the ground running."