US-based travelcompany Altour is looking to expand its travel consultant business in the UK. Travel Daily caught up with NigelParkinson, general manager for Altour in the UK, to see how its business modelwill work.
TD: Altour is already well-known in the US, howdoes your business model work?
NP: “Altour hasalready been in the UK for 10 years but we fill it is time to push ourbusiness. We are taking a template that is already successful and applying itto the UK market. Our model is based on employing what we call Independent Contractors(ICs), who run our business through their own business. ICs can work their ownhours and we provide them everything they need to operate such as businesstechnology, bonding, GDS systems and desk space. This means ICs can focus onservicing clients while we do all the back office work. We do a profit shareand the bulk sits with the IC. We are already mature in the leisure side butnot so much corporate.”
TD: Why have you decided to expand your UKoutput?
NP: “We’re at a pointnow where we have moved office and we are keen to fill it. It is right in theeconomic, tough time but there is more of an acceptance to be self-employednow. We take people who are currently working for TMCs who have a loyal clientbase themselves. They can decide if they want to move or we contact them tomake agents or consultants realise there is another way of working. We’reincreasing more on the IC side as we feel the time is right.”
TD: What does Altour require from thoseinterested in becoming an IC?
NP: “ICs must have aclient base behind them but be determined to grow it, so there is no tick boxapproach. We tend to work in niche areas such as the music business, film work,general new media, sports, concierge and traditional corporate businesses. Clientshave loyalty to a person rather than the company they work for, as arelationship is developed over a long period. So we really focus on people.”