The brainchild of husband and wife duo and corporate travel whizzes, Ben Ross and Nicola Veltman, 1000 Mile was acquired by corporate magnate, CTM, effective 1 July 2022. The takeover by CTM has revived Veltman and Ross’ long-term plan to enter the North American market this year.
Speaking exclusively with LATTE at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, Veltman said the relatively humble-sized Australian business has 50 travel experts in its business, with an average of 15 years’ industry experience under their belts. Headquartered in the Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, 1000 Mile also has feet on the ground in the United Kingdom, launched in 2017.
Locally, and with CTM’s backing, 1000 Mile aims to ramp up its workforce significantly over the next two years to 500 staff. That will include tapping into the Tasmania and New Zealand markets where it doesn’t have a presence.
But it’s the US market that is expected to propel the 7.5-year-old 1000 Mile Travel Group to a whole new dimension. Through CTM’s already established corporate and leisure brands, Allure Travel and MTravel respectively, 1000 Mile will aim to establish a formidable presence with some 1,500 independent contractors [ICs].
“The United States is going to be our largest market. In terms of corporate travel, the US is the biggest market before China. For us, we see such a big opportunity when it comes to the corporate side of the business and then also growing that which already exists in terms of leisure.”
By inheriting Allure Travel via CTM, 1000 Mile’s proposition in the US will be similar to what is offered in Australia and in the UK and initial conversations with prospective ICs are underway.
“We want to be able to walk before we can run. The next couple of months, or next quarter, will be about bedding down what we’ve got and then we can grow from there,” she said.
“Our goal over the next two years is to have 2000 ICs globally,” she revealed.
“Our founding vision was always to have a presence in the US and it was road mapped for 2022. That had always been our planning vision – to have a global IC company.
The expansion will see Veltman and Ross relocate to Denver, Colorado with their young family later this year, from where they will oversee the business.
“We’re very focused on corporate travel business owners,” she told LATTE at the Bellagio Resort & Casino last weekend.
In Australia, 85% of 1000 Mile’s revenue comes from corporate, while in the UK it’s nearly 100%.
Veltman and Ross established 1000 Mile when they found a gap in the market for corporate travel specialists who wanted to work from home
“We had these mobile businesses that we could operate online but we met a roadblock running a corporate business in a leisure platform.”
So they developed their own solution, and have steadily grown the business, with their travel experts who look after SMEs turning over $500,000, up to $3.5 million. Some accounts have been up to $6 million, she said.
“We’ve always been a growth company. For us it’s quality over quantity, which is why we don’t have people who are hobbyists or travel is their second job. This is their full-time job, corporate travel is their focus, and this is their bread and butter,” Veltman explained.
“For us it’s about helping other people to succeed and be successful. That’s what sparks us,” Veltman said.
The amount of business generated from 1000 Mile’s Australian ICs at the moment is around $100 million.
Under CTM’s mentoring, Veltman and Ross will remain the CEOs of 1000 Mile, which was crucial to the couple.
“We get to run the business, we get to run the company and the autonomy to make decisions, with the backing of CTM,” Veltman added.
The tie-up with CTM also gets 1000 Mile’s foot in the door with Virtuoso through Allure and MTravel, hence Veltman’s participation at Virtuoso Travel Week. She said having access to the breadth of the world’s most elite hotels and Virtuoso’s exclusive extra value amenities couldn’t be beaten.
Veltman also revealed to LATTE 1000 Mile was in the process of obtaining its own Virtuoso membership under its own name, which should be processed in the next few weeks.