Travel Counsellors remains committed to Holidaysplease, says agency chief

Travel Counsellors has pledged its long-term commitment to Holidaysplease a year after its acquisition, although fewer than half the original number of its agents are still trading under the brand.

Travel Counsellors bought the Birmingham-based business, comprising Holidaysplease, The Holiday Franchise Company and its support business, in March 2023.

Former directors Charles Duncombe, Richard Dixon and Sonia Dixon left earlier this month. Holidaysplease now has about 30 agents trading under its brand compared with just under 100 a year ago. About 55 have moved across to become travel counsellors, while about 10 have left. There are 50 agencies in The Holiday Franchise Company and 40 support staff.

Travel Counsellors chief executive Steve Byrne said 90% – about 90 –of the original Holidaysplease agents were still working within the Travel Counsellors ‘umbrella’, stressing: “We bought it because of the people.” He said: “We’re delighted at where we are 12 months in, and with the retention of people.

It’s trading well. It was always going to be a long-term investment.” Byrne said he viewed all agents as part of the wider Travel Counsellors group. He said: “We lost a few and recruited a few within Holidaysplease and Travel Counsellors. The key thing for us is retaining talent under the Travel Counsellors umbrella – whether they trade as Holidaysplease or Travel Counsellors is up to them.

“They are all part of the Travel Counsellors community. We want to make sure that they are happy and supported.” Byrne said it had been vital to win the “hearts and minds of the people”, adding: “We would have loved to have kept everyone.”

The deal has allowed the group to take on agents requiring generated sales leads, not offered under Travel Counsellors, and those who want to set up their own branded agency under The Holiday Franchise Company, he added.

Byrne predicted further growth of the business and the number of agents. “I see it carrying on growing and recruiting, like we do in Travel Counsellors,” he said, adding: “We look at what a potential recruit wants and do we have a solution to meet their needs.”

Future growth of the Travel Counsellors group would be mostly organic, he said, but further acquisitions have not been ruled out.

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