This week it was revealed that personal travel managers (PTMs) from the TravelManagers Australia network would be able to sell and earn commission on packages available through travel e-commerce company, Luxury Escapes, as part of a new supplier partnership announced at the group’s annual national conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, last weekend.
The cooperation is the latest arrangement between an Australian retail travel network and a travel disruptor. Flight Centre Travel Group bought into Ignite Travel Group a number of years ago and Travellers Choice aligned with TripADeal some 12 months ago. However, this venture between TravelManagers and Luxury Escapes is unique in that it is a first of its kind for a home-based retail agency group.
“Currently no other retail travel network has direct access to Luxury Escapes’ prominently advertised and promoted holiday content, which is a real coup for both our PTMs and our clients,” TravelManagers’ Finance and Commercial Manager, Tanyu Cilek, explained.
Cilek said over half a million travellers will enjoy a Luxury Escapes experience this year, and the new agreement will allow PTMs the opportunity to add value via flights, insurance and pre- and post-arrangement for clients who want a Luxury Escapes product.
“In the past, customers have been able to browse holidays and pick their Luxury Escapes experience, but now they have the additional benefit of being able to process their Luxury Escapes experience and book related supplementary arrangements via their very own PTM.”
TravelManagers Finance and Commercial Manager, Tanyu Cilek
Luxury Escapes’ recent withdrawal from ATAS (AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme) was of no concern to the home-based retail travel group, TravelManagers Australia Chairman, Barry Mayo, told LATTE in response to a question regarding their dropping out of the scheme.
“Luxury Escapes is a well-capitalised and very profitable business whose annual accounts are publicly available via ASIC,” Mayo said via email from Honolulu, also explaining the rationale behind the tie-up.
“Luxury Escapes is a B2C business with a community of 2.6 million travellers who prominently advertise incredible deals to amazing places. TravelManagers saw an opportunity for a trade partnership with the B2C business with its community of 2.6 million travellers and instigated conversations with Luxury Escapes.”
TravelManagers Australia Chairman, Barry Mayo
Mayo said talks between the travel entities had been held over a six-month period prior to signing a partner agreement, adding that TravelManagers has “numerous partner supplier agreements”.
Luxury Escapes’ Co-Founder and CEO, Adam Schwab, says from his company’s point of view, the value of partnering with one of Australia’s most experienced retail travel networks is indisputable.
Luxury Escapes launched a retail ‘pop-up’ concept store 12 months ago in Melbourne’s CBD. Dubbed “The Lounge”, the trendy outlet on Little Collins Street was designed to give existing and new clients a chance to come and talk with staff about holiday deals. Along with offering private transfers to the venue, customers could skim through packages on iPads or don a virtual reality headset and tour a number of locations around the world, while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres and sipping barista-made coffee while they made a decision. The outlet opened for a trial term of three months, but was so successful the doors stayed open for longer than first forecast.
Communicating exclusively with LATTE from Singapore while on the road, Schwab said the tie-up with TravelManagers Australia was for an initial 12-month period, however the entrepreneur was extremely optimistic, saying he expects the partnership will be “incredibly successful and last longer than our initial term”.
“We’re super excited about the partnership and see the TravelManagers network as a key value-add and partner of Luxury Escapes.”
Luxury Escapes Managing Director, Adam Schwab
Being a pilot program, LATTE questioned Schwab as to whether the partnership with TravelManagers Australia could be the first for similar ventures with other retail travel groups.
His response was: “At this stage, we are not revealing plans to partner with other travel retailers. Our view remains that where we can add value to our hotel partners and customers we will, and are absolutely open to speaking with other trade players so long as there’s a strong brand fit.”
Schwab explained that the reason behind aligning with a home-based network, rather than a bricks-and-mortar group was “probably mostly a reflection of the respect we have for TravelManagers as a brand and the people who work in the organisation – we didn’t set out to work with a home-based network over a high-street network, but are really excited to be working with TravelManagers”.
He told LATTE that the primary objective of alliance with TravelManagers was essentially about “ensuring more people have access to the world’s best holidays that Luxury Escapes curate”.
“Our customer satisfaction is off the charts and we have literally a global leading net promoter score, so it’s essentially a way to broaden our distribution to customers who may not have otherwise purchased a Luxury Escape.”
Schwab said Luxury Escapes was focused on ensuring PTMs will have full access to training and the products available with the e-commerce company, to ensure TravelManagers can easily communicate and sell Luxury Escapes’ holidays to their client base.
Quizzed if “The Lounge” concept had been rested for the time being given the new retail reach that has been availed through TravelManagers, Schwab said: “We loved our retail store and ended up extending multiple times, and retail is absolutely on our longer-term road map, but we don’t see the two as related in any way”.
“We are super pumped to be working with TravelManagers and have enormous respect for the travel trade and the value it creates in creating beautiful holidays for clients.”
Luxury Escapes Managing Director, Adam Schwab told LATTE