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Hot 100 2012 – 39: Travel Counsellors Group

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The basics

Company name: Travel Counsellors Group
What they do: Franchise-based travel adviser
Headquarters: Bolton
The boss: Steve Byrne

The financials

Latest turnover (£,000): 74,821
Four-year compound sales growth (%): 42
Latest Ebitda (£,000): 3,972

The details

In 2005, David Speakman, chief executive of Travel Counsellors which he had founded 10 years before, took the decision to expand his business overseas. Today the business runs a network of 1,200 one-person franchises based in six countries stretching from South Africa to Australia to Canada, as well as closer to home in Europe.

The Bolton-based family business offers travel packages to holidaymakers and business clients in a concierge-style set up and serves around 450,000 customers a year. Driven by international expansion, sales have tripled to just under £75m last year from £25m in 2008.

Managing director Steve Byrne says attention to detail and customer service is proving popular despite the rise of web-based quickie deal holiday packages: “Nine in 10 of our customers would book through us again. They could either do it all themselves or let us take care of the arrangements at no cost. 

“Prices are as good or better than doing it online because we have great relationships with airlines and hotels. There’s also peace of mind because payments are kept in trust until customers get what they paid for.” 

Byrne says the business will expand into “at least one or two” new countries this year and is investing in greater brand awareness. It has also just undertaken a major study into customer profiling which will help the business target customers more efficiently.

The Hot 100 2012 is brought to you by Investec, Jordans, Cass Business School and Your Business Your Future.

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