Homeworking agency InteleTravel is set to expand into Ireland early next year and has eyes on launching in western Europe when the time is right.
Founded 30 years ago in the US, the company launched in the UK four years ago.
Speaking at the InteleTravel UK conference in Valencia, co-founder and president James Ferrara said: “Our next move will be into the Republic of Ireland. It is a relatively easy move.”
He said it will happen once the agency’s Atol licence is granted by the Civil Aviation Authority, which he expects to happen within a few weeks.
“Once our Atol licence is in place, we can move into Ireland with relatively little red tape,” he said.
Ferrara said the company will also soon have operations in Canada and is eyeing further expansion into western Europe.
“We are methodical growers. We are not growing all at once but have eyes on a foothold there [western Europe],” he told the audience on Saturday (October 16).
“There is no timeframe but it is part of the plan. The order is based on research – who has got a strong middle-class economy; who has got strong credit card economy?”
In the UK, there are 10,500 agents, and Ferrara said the number has now stabilised.
“The goal is to be profitable, to perform for our partners,” he said.
“It is not how many agents, it’s how much we sell. It is important to get new blood but that’s the means; I want to focus on the end.”
Commenting on the imminent Atol licence, he told agents: “It’s about taking the shackles off you. It could be 50% of your business.”
Once the CAA has granted a retail licence, it will enable InteleTravel agents to package elements such as flights and hotels into a protected package.
He told agents there are plans “further down the line” for InteleTravel to have an Atol to package up its own tours which could offer agents a 20-25% mark-up instead of the current commission rate of 10-12%.
Tricia Handley-Hughes, UK director of InteleTravel UK, has been working on mandatory training for agents, which they must undergo before being able to package up holidays to sell under the Atol.
“It is about reassurance for your customers…it gives us credibility and gives our brand credibility,” she told delegates.
“It shows we are a serious player in the business and gives you a competitive edge.
“We have had a fantastic year of growth but next year it will be beyond the boundary.”
Joanna Kolatsis, UK legal counsel for InteleTravel UK, added: “It is a game changer – offering flights under Atol will open up a world of possibilities.
“You will be matching competitors, on a par with other homeworking agencies.
“A lot of nay-sayers have been waiting for it to go wrong.
“We want to get it right and show them we can do it properly.”
Pictured: Handley-Hughes (right) and Kolatsis talk to agents about the Atol licence training during the session entitled How Atol can supercharge your business.