PA Life talked to Nicola Veltman, CEO of 1000 Mile Travel Group about the rise of the company to a global player in the SME corporate travel and luxury executive leisure travel space…
Nicola has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years in Australia, the UK and the US. She started her career in the bright lights of leisure travel and quickly moved into corporate travel. She took on the building and managing multiple teams before moving into learning and development and running the training department. The management of the 5000 front line staff from novice induction through to leadership was a demanding task in which she thrived.
Fast forward to February 2015 Nicola and her husband Ben launched 1000 Mile Travel Group to bridge a gap in the travel industry. They spotted an opportunity to connect travel experts to customers with the help of technology, better reporting and support of a traditional travel agency. Their offering was underpinned by the dedicated support available for the travel experts in a work from anywhere environment.
Nine years later, 1000 MTG today has a global footprint in Australia, the UK and the US. They offer the best in market solutions for SME corporate travel and luxury executive leisure travel via proprietary limited technology and partnerships such as Virtuoso.
How did the vision for 1000 Mile Travel come about? Have you been able to be true to your dream as the company has evolved and grown?
1000 MTG was born because my husband Ben was an independent contractor, running a corporate business in a leisure platform. It worked until it didn’t, and he went out to market to look for a solution. This solution didn’t exist and that was how the idea for 1000 MTG was born, to bridge a gap in the market. Today we have helped over 300 travel advisors do what they love whilst creating flexibility in the modern workday. This has helped to provide over 1000 clients with a solution that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
How do you differ from other travel management companies?
1000 MTG was born to service the SME (small to medium enterprise) corporate market. We have our own proprietary limited technology, owned by our parent company CTM which ranges from online booking tools, to state-of-the-art reporting and more. We also provide dedicated support to help our customers and travel advisors achieve the success and results they are looking for. We have always wanted to service our corporate clients’ executive leisure travel needs too. This is where our partnership with Virtuoso comes in, providing that high end luxury solution. When you combine the two together this is a unique offering within the market.
How do you ensure consistency of your service quality when your travel advisers operate as independent business owners?
When bringing on new travel advisors we have certain criteria for them to be a part of 1000MTG. One is the minimum number of years in the industry, background checks and industry references. On top of this we ensure that our travel advisors are committed to a service level agreement and an operating cadence to support between core hours on a Monday to Friday. We also go one step further and ensure that we connect our customers with the best travel advisors for them, so they receive the personalised service they’re looking for.
Is there a limit to how many advisors you can have?
For 1000MTG it’s a quality vs quantity. So, no there is no a limit, however we say no to travel advisors more than we say yes. Our advisors don’t compete against each other either thanks to the culture we have created. Instead, there is mutual support though a buddy programme that ensures that everyone supports each other’s journeys and clientele. Our travel advisor motto is ‘You may work from home, or wherever you like, but you’ll never work alone’.
What is your Business Travel service like? Any special packages for PAs and EAs booking travel for their executives?
Our core focus is SME corporate travel where we consider ourselves an extension of your travel management team. We seek to understand what your goals and pain points are, and how we can add value. We understand that every client has unique preferences. By managing a smaller portfolio of clients, our advisors are able to dedicate more time to understanding the specific travel management needs of each client. This ensures a personalised and tailored approach to each travel itinerary whenever and wherever suites them. We look after clients who spend between £100,000 up to £3m per year. Travel accounts above this size are referred to our parent company CTM. On top of this we have an offering to look after your executive travel for your C-suite, incentive trips and groups.
What level of service and help can PA s and EAs receive when they come to you with complex travel itineraries?
Our travel advisors are industry experts and travel lovers with 15 years’ experience on average versus new to industry employees. There isn’t much they haven’t come into contact with over the years. They are experienced in handling most situations, from multi-flight itineraries, whether that’s to remote destinations in Africa or Asia, to natural disasters and the urgency in changes during the pandemic to bring their client’s home to last minute CEO demands. Whilst we work to a SLA (service level agreement) that is personalised for each client, we understand emergencies and last-minute trips too, and that changes do and will happen. Even though you have a dedicated travel advisor they are also part of a larger team and can lean on one another for support when and if required.
We are pleased to have 1000 Mile Travel Group as our Recommended Supplier for business travel.