TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyAs David Cameron and Nick Clegg formed a historic Tory/Lib Dem coalition government this week, the independent agency sector was talking about its own new coalition.

Not another independent agents’ alliance, I hear you groan!

After recent attempts to unite the sector, by Triton in 2006 and by Fita earlier this year, you could be forgiven for thinking the latest bid will go the same way.

But the architect of the latest effort, TTA managing director Simon Hargreaves, is convinced he’s hit on the right formula to make it work.

His idea is to base it on the model pioneered in car manufacturing by Toyota. Ignoring the car brand’s recent problems, Hargreaves says its approach meant it became established as a world leader in supplier management by operating a model that he feels travel agency groups should adopt.

His says his vision has two key advantages. First, suppliers’ performance is controlled through partnership and constant attention to standards – ending the tendency to immediately turn them off as soon as a problem arises.

And second, committing to the alliance by sharing key functions of each members’ business, so no one can just walk away.

This approach, Hargreaves argues, is much more than just about teaming up to protect commissions.

Just days ago, we might have been sceptical any such coalition could work. But if our politicians can set aside their egos, surely travel industry leaders can too.


Could independent agency groups work closer together? Discuss it on the travelhub forums