Britain-based host agency and franchise group Travel Counsellors has officially closed its three-person U.S. office and exited the American market, although most counselors and staff have been gone since July. The company’s North American operations will now be focused in Canada.
“I can confirm that we have in effect closed the U.S. arm of Travel Counsellors,” said managing director Steve Byrne in an email to U.S. industry publication Travel Pulse.
“We do believe that we offer something new to the U.S. market, but it is taking much longer than we expected to get the traction needed and the overall economic environment in the U.S, particularly compared to other markets and opportunities remains challenging,” Byrne said.
“We have therefore decided to focus our immediate efforts in North America on our business in Canada. When the overall economic environment improves, and we believe the market is more conducive to our model, we will consider returning to the U.S. market.”
In four years in the U.S. market, Travel Counsellors only managed to attract 50 U.S. member agents. The company has a total of 1,200 agents worldwide in six countries, including 800 in the UK.
Over its four years, Travel Counsellors’ U.S. operations were headed by a series of executives, including Graeme Clarke, Peter Rasmussen and Darya Camacci. At one point the company retained former NACTA President Joanie Ogg to help boost recruitment. Canada has also seen a changing of the guard with the departure of Lynda Sinclair who launched the operations in Canada. Anita Emilio is the current General Manager for Canada.
The company’s U.S. selling proposition was its global clout and a one-stop technology solution, but the 60% split compensation structure did not match that offered by most U.S. host agencies.
Byrne says the company overall is doing well, with sales up 30%. He says UK sales are up 20% in a generally flat market, while international sales are up by 100%. Total group sales are expected to reach around $500-million this year.