Freedom Travel Group has grown its membership by around 25% in the year to date, according to head Jane Atkins.
The consortium, which now has 145 members, has benefited from new start-up businesses joining, often as a result of employees being made redundant during the recession, she said.
Atkins admitted that the joining process was taking longer as new members were more cautious about setting up businesses in the current economic climate. However, she said the fact the group has The Co-operative Travel Group’s backing and offers a package, including ABTA and ATOL bonding, front and back-office services and pays suppliers on behalf of agents, was proving attractive during the recession. The consortium takes a percentage of members’ monthly income.
She said: “A lot of what we do is recruiting new start-ups. If you think of where we are in terms of redundancies and people looking for ideas to set up their own businesses, we are ideally placed.”
But she said the group had not poached members of any consortia, although some had made enquiries about joining, particularly from one of the industry’s big three consortia.
“We are not in the market to steal members from our competitors but we have had a slight increase in agents coming to us from other consortia. We get more calls from one of the three consortia [than others],” said Atkins, who refused to name which consortium’s members was showing more interest in Freedom.
Atkins said the year had not proved as difficult so far for members as the group had anticipated. “I did think we would have a tougher time. It is tough out there, without a doubt, but members are working hard to innovate and doing well in a recessionary year.”
Atkins’ comments follow reports Global Travel Group has launched a recession package to attract travel agents to its Independent Options division by scrapping subscription fees.