InteleTravel is considering acquisitions in the UK, but is not interested in bricks and mortar travel agencies.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, James Ferrara, president of the US homeworking group, said: “Almost daily I get approached by agency owners and managers around the world, not just in the UK.”
He said “there are opportunities in the UK” but said the company was more focussed on markets such as Canada.
Ferrara said: “Acquiring an agency can be a shortcut to getting started in a new country. We didn’t do that in the UK.
“If I’m considering it in the UK, it has to be the right fit. Really, I’m not interested in acquiring a brick and mortar agency on a high street.”
Asked what he might consider acquiring, he said: “There are other homeworker networks in the UK. There are operations in the UK that have technical facilities, or other types of locations that would be of interest to us. I really can’t say more than that.”
But he stressed “the UK is not off the table in any sense” in terms of acquisitions and said he was open to purchasing databases of cruise customers of speak to companies “looking to shed assets”.
He said InteleTravel already distributed sales leads to its recruits who want them and that buying databases could help them provide more sales opportunities.
When pressed on criticism of InteleTravel’s recruitment policy, Ferrara said the group had “clamped down” on “mistakes”.
He explained that people could work for both InteleTravel and recruitment firm PlanNet Marketing, but stressed they must not be representing InteleTravel when recruiting for the firm on behalf of PlanNet.
The homeworking group has drawn widespread criticism on the practice – including being labelled a pyramid scheme – since entering the UK market, but has always insisted PlanNet is a separate firm.
Ferrara said the only relationship between the two companies was a marketing agreement.
“We explained our relationship to Abta, to Clia, to anyone who needed to understand it,” he said. “They very seriously and thoroughly analysed it, asked all the questions, asked for all the proof. And we satisfied. they are totally separate companies. I have no involvement in that company. It’s a third party contractor.”
He compared the situation to a car salesperson buying the car. “You might so appreciate your product, that you would also buy it for yourself and drive it,” he said.
Pressed on how the firm is dealing with people who straddle both companies, he said: “If you say you’ve seen evidence of agents being involved in the recruiting, that’s somebody who wears both hats, but has gotten confused which hat they should have on at the moment. Of course we’ve clamped down. We do have people who make mistakes, if the mistakes are serious, if they’re egregious, those people no longer affiliate.”
Ferrara said widespread criticism of InteleTravel has “vindicated our model with suppliers and customers” adding: “that’s all that’s important”.
He said criticisms were from competitors, which he said was driven by “fear”.
Asked if many InteleTravel recruits leave after a short period, he said “sure, there’s some” but added: “I wouldn’t characterise it as quite a lot”.
He explained that there is no long-term contract with InteleTravel so recruits choose each month whether to rejoin. “We have to earn your business every month, because you could simply stop,” he said, adding that people can leave after 30 days and get their money back and are given a ‘profit assurance’ on the anniversary of the affiliation whereby if recruits haven’t made more than it costs be affiliated the lost money will be returned.