Travel Counsellors hosts biggest conference yet

Steve Byrne at the 2022 event

This weekend, Manchester headquartered travel platform Travel Counsellors, is hosting its biggest ever global conference for its network of mainly home-based counsellors.

The Travel Counsellors Global Annual Conference, taking place from today (Friday 24th) until Sunday 26 November at Manchester Central Convention Centre, will bring together over 1,750 delegates from across the globe, including Travel Counsellors, partners, support team colleagues and over 200 suppliers and with a budget of £1 million.

The event is being sponsored by seven headline sponsors – Silversea, Celebrity Cruises, Bedsonline, Accor Hotels, Travelsphere & Just You, Intrepid and Disney Destinations, and will have the theme ‘One Team’.

Steve Byrne, chief executive of Travel Counsellors, told “The recovery has been profound. We’ve outperformed the market, but that’s down to lasting and loyal relationships.”

He added: “The prospect of coming together as one community again for our annual conference fills us with excitement, and we look forward to extending a warm welcome to our Travel Counsellors, support team colleagues, suppliers and partners joining us from across the world.”

The business was almost brought to its knees by the pandemic, but Vetruvian, its private equity backers who bought a stake in the business from Equistone in 2018, have supported Byrne and continue to invest in technology with £10m scheduled to be deployed to support a now 60-strong technology team.

In May 2023 reported that Total Transaction Value (TTV) for the year to October 31, 2022, was £719.4m, 312% higher than the prior year and significantly ahead of pre-pandemic levels of £631m.

Revenue increased significantly by 411% year-on-year to £347.8m, EBITDA increased significantly to £20.1m, compared with a £6.8m loss the previous year, reflecting the impact of the pandemic.

Byrne said: “This year marks an important milestone for us on as we’re proud to host a record number of attendees, including over 1,000 Travel Counsellors and their partners along with over 200 suppliers all united under our ‘one team’ ethos.

“Our independent business owners don’t just handle bookings; they build personal connections, crafting tailor-made travel experiences by caring more than anyone else, all empowered by our digital personal platform.  As we gather for our annual global conference, it’s the perfect occasion to celebrate in this collective success across all of our international markets after a record-breaking year, share industry insights and look forward to the incredible opportunity we have ahead of us.”

The event will also feature daytime conference sessions, featuring updates from the company’s support team, insights from external experts, and an array of guest speakers. The Travel Market event will showcase products and updates from supplier partners.

A key highlight of the weekend is the Saturday evening gala dinner, where outstanding contributions within the Travel Counsellors community are recognised and celebrated, alongside a host of entertainment, which will be revealed on the night.

The company has a reputation for throwing an impressive party and in the past has secured artists such as Gary Barlow and Simply Red to perform at the Saturday night headliner, after a warm up from a top comedian.