A host of agency owners and managers have congregated in the thriving metropolis of Shanghai for Express Travel Group’s ninth annual Independent Travel Group and italktravel Forum, with major sponsors Cathay Pacific, Expedia, Wendy Wu Tours and The Travel Corporation providing members with a weekend to remember.
CEO Tom Manwaring opened proceedings with an update on the growth and success of Express Travel Group over the last 12 months. With the addition of 32 new members to the group, it has also seen an increase in passenger numbers and airline revenue of 11% as well as double-digit TTV growth across hotels, cruise and touring.
The consistent underlying message from presenters across the conference was of the importance of adaptation to change and the investment in technology to remain at the forefront of the industry. Manwaring pointed out that even with the developments in technology (AI and now AAI), technology will never replace people.
“Computers can’t be intuitive, they can know everything about me, expect what I’m going to do next,” he said, “And that is why travel agents are here to stay.”
General Managers Sales & Marketing, Jonathan Nelson, took to the stage to share some big news around the groups new online merchant system, Express Pay. “This is an industry first and exclusive to Express Travel Group. We are the only group to provide members with an ACS-approved online merchant payment system,” Nelson said.
Agency Support Centre Manager, Alisha Dopper, then announced the launch of the new Express Rewards loyalty program ‘Elevate’ as well as the revamp of the extensive new Express Academy program, which shows ETG’s ongoing commitment to advanced training methods for members.
Saturday night’s much-anticipated gala awards night recognised the ‘best of the best’, with italktravel & cruise Reservoir (Victoria) awarded Agency of the Year for italktravel.
Bicton Travel (Western Australia) was awarded Agency of the Year for ITG.
The evening was capped off with the announcement of next year’s new conference format and the bringing together of all ETG brands (Select Travel Group, Independent Travel Group and italktravel) for one annual bigger-and-better conference to be held in Bangkok from 15–18 August 2019.
Lead image: itravel Group