TravelManagers Australia‘s new alliance with Signature Travel Network revealed this week has been many years in the pipeline, with initial discussions dating back to 2016.
Chief Operating Officer, Grant Campbell, said the new agreement with the US-based travel cooperative followed a review of TravelManagers’ offering during the pandemic.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to improve our offering. We’re talking to a lot of people, a lot of the time. We first met up with Signature Travel Network back in July 2016,” Campbell told LATTE.
“This was just part of a step forward in improving our luxury offering to our PTMs and therefore, the end customers.”
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Following the closure of Ensemble Travel Group’s Australian-based office in early 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to tighten its grip on global travel, TravelManagers sparked up talks with Signature Travel Network again.
“We started to get into the detail of our luxury membership at the beginning of the pandemic. We wanted to make sure that when we came out of it, we had the best offering to make the most of the bounce back,” Campbell explained.
“So our serious evaluation has been ongoing with Signature since around mid-2020.”
“We had hoped to officially launch with them in July-2021, but with COVID it just didn’t seem like an appropriate time, so we kept pushing back.”
TravelManagers formalised its agreement with Signature Travel Network last year, officially commencing 1 January 2022.
Campbell says what was of strongest appeal from the partnership was the extent of Signature Travel Network’s hotels and resorts inventory and value-add offering, along with the vast DMC (destination management network) reach.
“DMCs work well for our FIT and Group market when a particular destination doesn’t offer a product that fits into our mainstream program. They can pull together itineraries and provide that expert knowledge that you generally only access when dealing with a DMC, especially in destinations such as South America, or remote places. And Signature has representation in over 130 countries.”
Personal Travel Managers (PTMs) will be able to gain direct access to Signature’s product information pages via TravelManagers’ in-house system, Oracle, while other tools are also under evaluation.
At this stage, Cruising isn’t part of the arrangement, with Campbell telling LATTE “we have quite strong relationships with the cruise lines ourselves”.
“We have had some initial discussions with Signature about the possibility of cruising, however they are at the early stages. We’re quite confident that our offerings in that area are as strong as they could be but we’ll continue those discussions just in case there are any opportunities,” he said.
TravelManagers’ PTMs will also be able to participate as guests at Signature Travel Network’s conferences and events, including the annual showcase in Las Vegas held late in the year. Campbell confirmed management from TravelManagers Australia will “definitely” be represented.