We are fortunate to be an independent travel agent team, under the umbrella business, Travel Advocates. For you, our travel community, that means we have even greater insight and business expertise at the ready.
We checked in with Travel Advocates General Manager, Mike Southcombe, to find out more about our mother ship business.
How long has Travel Advocates been around? And how did it start?
Travel Advocates started in 2017. 100% owned by House of Travel Holdings, they recognised that the travel broker sector is the fastest growing sector of the industry here in New Zealand. It was important that they have business that focuses solely on supporting its brokers. House of Travel had already had huge success in Australia with Travel Managers which has seen the business grow to over 600 personal travel managers.
What is your background?
I have been in the travel industry for nearly 30 years. Having grown up in family that owned retail and wholesale travel businesses it was inevitable that I’d join the fold. My focus for over 20 years has been very much travel broker focused. Initially supporting the brokers at Jetsave Travel, one of the first adopters of the travel broker model and then leaving to setup Travel Managers Group, a 100% broker based business. I ran this business from 2002 to 2015 (from memory).
How do you manage to get such a wide range of products and prices for us travel agents?
We’re lucky to have access to the House of Travel team who deliver great deals via the land and cruise wholesale teams; their product knowledge is second to none. We also access the wider range of preferred product available to House of Travel outlets. Being a broker based company there is also flexibility to deal with other suppliers. We recognise that relationships play a key role in Travel with consultants and brokers often choosing to deal with people they’ve dealt with over many years.
What is your personal ethos for the Travel Advocates business?
Our role is to provide a supportive environment, delivering as many tools to make the life of a PTM (personal travel manager/travel agent) a little easier. With a team that has so many years of experience we promote the sharing of our knowledge to help avoid any pitfalls. The biggest focus for us as we grow is developing a strong culture within the business, where everyone is happy to share ideas and work together. It’s very much a people industry and developing strong relationships is so important.