Travel Counsellors Closes Canadian Office

Open Jaw

U.K.-headquartered home-based agency group Travel Counsellors came into Canada with a splash in 2008. Now it is leaving quietly. The company surrendered its TICO retail licence effective 01SEP.

A message on the website reads as follows:

“Travel Counsellors has operated in Canada since 2008, becoming renowned for their personal service, independent and expert travel advice. Our Toronto office will be closing on the 31st August 2015, but we will remain available to you from our Head Office in the U.K. to answer any queries you may have. If you need to get in touch with us, please complete and send the form below and we will contact you as soon as possible.”

The company says it includes over 1,400 travel professionals in 7 countries around the world. But despite significant marketing investment in this market, it failed to meet growth expectations.

While some agent consortia seem to take a “come one, come all” approach to recruiting members, Travel Counsellors claimed to be very choosy. In 2013, after 5 years in Canada, the company had signed up just 25 members.

“We turn away tons of people,” Anita Emilio, who was then General Manager of Travel Counsellors (Canada) told Open Jaw at the time. “And many people select themselves out during the evaluation process. It’s nothing personal. We’re always looking for great people, but it’s not about the numbers. It’s about providing clients with incredible service. Everything else flows from that.”


Gary - September 29, 2015 @ 11:09
I agree with both sides. For every one home agent that is making it their main career and main source of income there are 3 -4 who are playing with it. You do not need to look at any travel show. How many are side kicks or so called agents that really only come out for a free meal and maybe a chance at winning a trip. I know many from both sides. As far as I am concerned if this is not your main interest or you just need to work part time while raising kids or looking after parents then you are not doing any favors for the industry.

Ron - September 29, 2015 @ 10:09
I have to agree with Ken for the most part...The industry is saturated with so called 'home-based' professionals and hasn't been positive for the industry...

James - September 29, 2015 @ 10:09
I'm very surprised at the lack of knowledge being presented by Ken's comments. Our agency regularly (i.e. weekly) has non-face-to-face bookings in the $5-10K+ range. Some of our biggest single ticket item purchases (over $25K+ Land only tour), the client has never even bothered to pick up the phone, email only (even we were surprised at this).

Not everyone has the time or ability or desire to sit down and hash things out with an agent over several meetings (the client above with the $25K+ ticket actually told us she'd visited storefront agencies but none of them matched her preferences/needs of someone to work with). Yes, hard to believe but there are many agencies that actually thrive on online connected bookings only! Go figure! Luckily there are many forms of agencies available today, to suit everyone's needs.

Mark - September 29, 2015 @ 10:09
Ken - your comment is completely untrue. There are many at home, very professional agents who have sales over $1 million. If you are familiar with TICO all home based agencies also have a bricks and mortar store front for meeting clients who wish to conduct business in person. The non-success of Travel Counselors is not an indicator of the success of the model as there are a number of home based agencies that are doing well and thriving.

Ken - September 29, 2015 @ 09:09
No surprise here..the whole home-based concept has been a bunch of hyperbole, the end of the day, if a client is going to lay down 12K for a river cruise, they want the comfort of doing it in a professional branded, bricks and mortar travel agency-not to some person working out of their basement or the back of a plumbing shop that does a total of 50K a year in sales....

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