Merlin Travel Group more than doubles membership in two years

Merlin Travel Group has more than doubled its membership in the last two years as it hints at further growth in the tour operating and cruise sectors.

The consortium for travel agents and destination specialist tour operators had 28 members in 2021 and now has 60. It started in 2019, and had eight agents by the start of 2020.

Current membership of the group, itself a member of Protected Trust Services, is mainly homeworkers.

The group cited its flexible business model as key to attracting new members, putting growth down to demand for a “no-tie contract”, meaning members are not locked in to specific time frames or exit penalties; the fact it offers agents and operators autonomy over how they run their businesses; and its support for businesses that want to expand.

The group also said agents were attracted by its ‘appealing’ commission rates and a dynamic packaging platform which can help members put together exclusive travel packages.

Recent members include Orwell Travel, which specialises in supporting deaf and hard of hearing clients, and Lynda Betsch, ex-country sales manager UK, Ireland and BeNeLux at Aegean Airlines, who has changed tack to become a homeworker.

Managing director Garry Butcher said demand had increased for a group for experienced travel business owners to grow in a secure way with increased profits.

He said many members had joined from renowned agencies because they wanted more growth opportunities and autonomy without limitations on membership, and a higher split of commission.

He said: “This has been a fantastic year for us in terms of sales and growth, and we’re very excited about future projects we’re working on. I’m sure our principles of empowerment, autonomy, and equitable share of commissions have been key ingredients in our success and that of our members.”

Mark Sutton, managing director, Protected Trust Services, said the group’s affiliation with PTS had created an ‘ecosystem where businesses can grow without constraints’.

He added: “It’s great to see PTS members‘ business grow, and all the hard work has come to fruition. It shows that the PTS model is ideal for businesses of this size. I congratulate Garry and the team for their achievements.”

Merlin Travel Group said it is also looking to expand its trade tour operation MTG Holidays in the near future and is also planning to launch MTG Cruise, an exclusive cruise network, next month.

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