The boss of The Travel Network Group says he does “not expect many Global members to leave” for alternative consortia, following last week’s announcement that TTNG is due to acquire its rival.
But he did concede that some Global Travel Group members were “unhappy” with the way they had been supported through the coronavirus crisis and pledged to help solve the issues.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, TTNG chief executive Gary Lewis said: “All of the news we’ve seen [since the announcement] has been positive.”
But he added he had faced a lot of questions over mounting refund issues from Global members.
“All the challenges that Global have admitted they’re having with those refund issues – we know the exact number per booking, they’ve told us about it and we will obviously see that when we go through the due diligence,” he said.
“At the moment that [responsibility] is staying with Global and staying with dnata. We will make a decision through the process about adding resource to resolve those problems on behalf of those members. Or if it makes sense to keep it where it is, then obviously, they’ll be protected and warrantied by dnata to carry that on.
“One of the things that we’ve already said to dnata and Global is that we will help with resource. We have additional resource we can bring to bear, outside of the Travel Network Group, to solve those problems in an entrepreneurial, creative way because we have lots of members who are able to do that; who have a lot of people who aren’t doing anything at the moment.
“In terms of those refund credit challenges, we think we can bring some resources to solve it.”
Lewis also confirmed that the deal did not put TTNG at any risk.
“If it [the liabilities] did transfer, it would be warrantied by Dnata, so we’re not taking on any additional risk. It’s a partnership with ourselves and dnata to resolve these issues for Global members. That’s why we can have this open, honest conversation and why we’re talking about it now, and not at completion.
“We’re talking right now because we have a real trust between Travel 2, Gold Medal, dnata, ourselves and Global about solving the problems. Not passing the buck anywhere, but recognising what they are, and making sure that the Global members feel comfortable that people are going to get to those issues and solve them as quickly as they possibly can.”
Lewis said he was not unduly concerned that many Global members would leave following the deal, which is due to complete in six to eight weeks’ time.
“I’m not worried [about losing any members]. I know our membership proposition stands up for the brilliant people in our organisation. And the fact we’ve grown from 600 members to 1,000…we haven’t done that by locking people into contracts.”
“Unlike some of our competitors, we do not have horrific contracts that lock people in. Members need to stay with us because they want to stay with us; because we’re meeting their service needs and their requirements.
“And when we’re getting it wrong, they’re telling us so we can then start to get it right. And when we do get it right, we keep getting it right consistently.”
Lewis acknowledged that Global members had a choice and a right to move if they wish.
“The Global members have a renewal process that comes up and at that point, they will be within their rights to have those conversations with either the existing dnata/Global team until completion, or with us at that point,” he said.
“I don’t want any of those members to go anywhere, but it’s within their right to do so. All I’d hope is they would give us time to have the conversation; listen and let us show them those solutions and services.”
He said TTNG had managed to keep “a huge number” of Worldchoice members when it was acquired in 2008, “because they listened to and believed that we were going to try to make things better. And I think we proved and demonstrated that.
“People will ask the right questions to challenge and understand what’s going on, quite rightly. But actually, there’s been a huge amount of warmth from Global members, and from the Travel Network Group members off the back of this, that’s not been controlled by us – you’ve seen that come through on social media,” said Lewis.
“All the news we’ve seen is positive. Of course, it’s right that people question and challenge it, because we’re in a time when you should be questioning and challenging everything. But we don’t expect many members to go.”
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