The Travel Corporation (TTC) has not incurred any debt or approached third parties to refinance the 40-brand company despite being “challenged” by the ongoing global pandemic, its chief executive has said.
Brett Tollman told a Travel Weekly webcast that last year the travel giant generated just 10% of the revenue it received in 2019, and that he is paying staff across the company 70% of their contracted salaries.
Tollman said TTC would emerge from the pandemic “just fine” and added how the company’s balance sheet was “incredibly strong” going into the pandemic, which marred its 100th birthday celebrations last year.
He said: “We’ve certainly been challenged by this like everyone else, but I would note that I think we’re perhaps the only travel company in the industry that has not had to reach out and find any new third party debt.
“We’ve not had to bring in partners or investors. Our balance sheet was incredibly strong going into this. It has certainly been impactful, but we’ve not wasted the opportunity to rethink our business, to reinvent our business, in many ways.”
According to Brett Tollman, who appeared on the webcast alongside his cousin Gavin, the family-run company does not pay out dividends to staff.
“We keep the money within the business for events like this,” he said. “We certainly never expected a global pandemic to occur for this long.”
Retaining the vast majority of the company’s workforce has allowed staff to remain connected with travel agents, he added. “We’ve hosted hundreds of events to keep them engaged, to keep them informed, to keep their spirits up, talking about what’s to come.”
Between 60% to 70% of British and American agents who engaged with TTC went on to attend the virtual events.
TTC is currently rolling out a new global telephone system, worth more than $16 million. The platform has gone live in the US and Canada so far, and the UK is next in line after Australia and New Zealand.
The system allows the brands’ sales teams to quickly see which agent they are talking to, the pending bookings they looking to confirm and other sales information.
“The call will be faster and more efficient,” Brett Tollman said. “[We’re] always focused on closing the sale and getting our commissions paid as timely as possible.”
Gavin Tollman, the chief executive of TTC brand Trafalgar, said agents were “vital” in a post-pandemic travel world but urged them to listen customers, so they understood what their clients’ travel needs were.
Trafalgar made touring “100% effortless”, he added. “If things change, we can adapt to it, because we’re the experts in the country.”
Brett Tollman issued a reminder to travel agents about the introduction of a wellbeing director on trips with TTC touring brands – Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold – last year.
He said: “This person is there to ensure the trip goes off smoothly and effectively.”
In February, Trafalgar took its first guests to Egypt on a tour. Brett Tollman said bookings with the brand “continue to grow every week”.
“We’ve taken more people to Egypt since then, while making a note that one has to be so careful,” he said.
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