Travel Weekly Globe Awards 2007 - All forty award winners pose with their trophiesThe growing importance of homeworking was recognised at the 30th Travel Weekly Globe Awards when the sector’s pioneer David Speakman won two of the night’s most prestigious awards.

Travel Counsellors founder and chairman scooped the outstanding achievement award for his pioneering approach to agency.

He also picked up the innovation in travel award, voted for by a panel of judges and sponsored by business consultancy Accenture, for introducing a contract to allow Travel Counsellors’ agents to own the franchise to their own businesses.

Speakman launched the Bolton-based company in 1994 and now oversees a network of more than 700 agents in the UK, Ireland, Holland and the US with a combined turnover of £175 million. He predicted franchising could become the leading agency model as multiples shut shops and drive business on to the web.

Speakman revealed the company’s first TV advertising campaign, launched for the current peak booking period and starring Travel Counsellor Judi Carr, has helped to boost both sales and recruitment.

Sales this January are up 24% on last year, with each Travel Counsellor seeing improved sales of a minimum of 2%. Speakman added the TV advert has lead to “a massive influx of interest from new joiners”.

Royal Caribbean International sales and marketing director Jo Rzymowska with the Travel Weekly Globe award for best cruise company (4 stars plus)One of the biggest shocks of the night came in the cruise sector, changed this year to reflect the growing diversity in the market and its importance to agents. Market leader P&O Cruises was beaten in the four-star plus category by Royal Caribbean International, capping a successful 2006 for the cruiseline that introduced the world’s largest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, to the UK in Southampton in May.

A delighted sales and marketing director Jo Rzymowska said the award was partly aresult of a “halo effect” from that launch, but more importantly Royal Caribbean’s commitment to improving the way it works with agents.

“The product we have is phenomenal but you have to communicate that. We focus on making sure we are in the faces of travel agents all the time.”

Thomas Cook director of product Robbie Orr, left, holds the award for best operator to the Western Mediterranean with director of yield Kay RyanOther surprise winners were Leger Holidays for best coach operator, Travel 2/4 for best scheduled consolidator and Freedom Flights for best seat-only operator. Thomas Cook scooped best operator to the Western Mediterranean and First Choice won best operator to the Eastern Mediterranean. The first Travel Weekly training academy Anheuser Busch Adventure Parks won best Travel Weekly online training academy.

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly managing director Trevor Harding was given a standing ovation after announcing the awards would be his last as he is due to retire later this year.