Travel Counsellors enjoys buoyant year’s trading with record annual bookings

Steve Byrne

Travel Counsellors, the Manchester-based holidays group, has reported record annual bookings, in a trading update covering the year to October 31, 2023.

Bookings hit £933m, up 23% on the prior year (£758m), representing a transformational compound annual growth rate of 16% since pre-pandemic levels (FY19 – £520m)

Both the company’s leisure and corporate-focused businesses achieved record results. UK leisure bookings increased 22% year on year to £552m, while UK corporate bookings increased 24% to £209m, breaking the £200m barrier for the first time

Included in the reporting period is the completion of the company’s first ever acquisition, in March 2023, of Holidaysplease, the Birmingham-based specialist luxury travel advisors, with post-acquisition performance ahead of initial expectations.

More than 340 new travel counsellors have joined the company, taking it to more than 2,000 franchisees at the year-end

Travel Councellors served more than 100,000 active customers across in excess of 300,000 bookings for the first time.

The top three leisure destinations on a departure basis for UK customers were the US (up 8.8% year on year) Spain (up 10.2%), and Greece (up 3.8%).

Cruise bookings were up 66% and trips to Australia rose by 167%.

The company also reported very encouraging repeat customer rates and its 5-star rating on Trust Pilot was maintained.

Chief executive, Steve Byrne, said: “FY23 was an amazing year for Travel Counsellors.

“We achieved continued transformational growth by disrupting the travel market and welcomed a record number of new customers who trusted our community of outstanding travel counsellors with their leisure and corporate travel needs.

“Our very strong performance once again demonstrates the strength of our differentiated, disruptive, and scalable business model as well as growing customer demand for our trusted and personal travel advice. I am incredibly proud of what we achieved during FY23 and would like to thank everyone associated with our business for their outstanding levels of commitment and care.”

He added: “Our fantastic community of Travel Counsellors are the lifeblood of our business. We now work with a growing community of over 2,000 of the market’s most talented independent travel franchisees and I am delighted to say that the average sales growth by established travel counsellors increased by more than 20% year on year. This reflects the power of our technology platform, combined with our supportive community, which helps ambitious travel entrepreneurs to truly fulfil their potential.

“Looking forward, I am extremely confident that we are exceptionally well placed to achieve further significant growth over the coming years. Our current trading remains very strong, and we already have more than £350m of departures booked for FY24, which is up 30% on where we were at the comparable time in FY23.

“Our recent, inaugural Travel Tracker report highlighted the resilience of and growth prospects for the travel industry, with consumers looking to travel more often in 2024 and enjoy highly personalised experiences. Against this backdrop, we are focused on maintaining our momentum by continuing to disrupt the travel market and delighting even more customers with fantastic travel experiences, helping more travel entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in the years ahead.”