All posts by Martin Kelly

Costs Down, Profits Up at Helloworld Travel

Cost cutting continued to yield strong results at Helloworld Travel with net profit increasing 48% to $32 million in the year to June 30. Revenue was basically the same as 16/17 at $326.9 million however operating costs “lowered significantly”, hence the dramatically improved profit.

The announcement also revealed that the price of international airfares fell 6.6% through the year, driving volume but not margin. More 

Brett Mitchell, Regional Director Asia-Pacific, Intrepid Group

Originally from Zimbabwe, Brett has always felt a connection to Africa, which has seen him travel across the continent entirely on public transport from London to Cape Town, which took over 9 months.  

Brett is a Chartered Accountant and has a professional background in finance which included senior roles in the accounting profession, telecoms and manufacturing industries. Working in London for over five years, Brett successfully led a number of debt raisings, M&A activity and an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange.  

Brett joined Intrepid Travel in June 2008 as the Group’s Financial Controller, before being appointed Group Finance Director of the Intrepid Group, and progressing to the Executive Group in September 2012.

In 2017, Brett was appointed the Regional Director of the Asia Pacific Region for the Intrepid Group.

Serving on the Audit & Risk committee, JV boards and as a Board Director of The Intrepid Foundation for over 4 years, Brett is committed to delivering on the businesses strategy around creating shared value and making a positive difference to all stakeholders.

It’s time for travel brands to rethink loyalty says Google

Loyalty ain’t what it used to be, says Google, and it’s time that travel marketers woke up to the new reality which, being Google, is all about businesses using technology to personalise messages and advertising. Loyalty was also a hot topic at the Australian Revenue Management Association conference in Melbourne last week, where the view was that loyalty can’t be bought but must be earned. See Google post.

Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director, Aurora Expeditions


Robert took over the reins at Aurora Expeditions as Managing Director in February 2017, after 6 years as Director, Global Account Development & Asia Pacific with Rocky Mountaineer.

He brings over 25 years experience of senior management in the travel industry in both North America and Australia, having overseen sales and marketing throughout Asia, South Africa, Australia and the New Zealand markets.

After experiencing first-hand an Aurora voyage onboard the Polar Pioneer, Robert will be leading Aurora Expeditions into their next chapter with a commitment the original philosophies Aurora is known for.

Tammy Marshall, Founder & CEO, The B Hive

Tammy Marshall is the Founder of The B Hive – a business transformation consultancy that specialises in the Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, Leisure and Entertainment sectors.

Tammy has built her career around enabling global companies to pivot, transform and capitalise on rapid growth opportunities. She has held C-level positions and executive roles at TFE Hotels, Carnival Australia, P&O Cruises, AAT Kings/Inspiring Journeys, Contiki and more.

Early on in her career right up to her most recent roles, she’s always been drawn to challenging, complex roles that require a progressive and change-oriented leadership style to forge paths into new territories and markets.

Today, as the founder of The B Hive, she is solidly focused on helping people and businesses to future proof themselves through a focus on business optimisation, growth and innovation initiatives.

Tammy holds a Master of Business Administration, a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business – Management from Queensland University of Technology (QUT). She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) and is part of the Laureate Torrens Australia University Industry Advisory Board.

Tammy is also a mentor on and the official Hospitality & Tourism Industry Advisor for Slingshot – Australia’s only Corporate Accelerator Program, a mentor for the Rare Birds Network and she is regularly engaged as keynote speaker and presenter at various events.

And when she’s not working, you’ll find her indulging in her passions of travel & discovery, food & wine, and getting outdoors every chance she can.

Jamie Pherous, Managing Director, Corporate Travel Management

Jamie Pherous, Founder and Managing Director, founded Corporate Travel Management in 1994. He built the company from its headquarters in Brisbane to become the largest privately-owned travel management company in Australia before listing it on the Australian Stock Exchange in late 2010.

Today, the company employs more than 2000 FTE staff.

Prior to establishing Corporate Travel Management, Jamie was employed by Arthur Andersen (now Ernst & Young) as a chartered accountant specialising in business services and the financial consulting division in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the United Arab Emirates.

Jamie was also a major shareholder and co-founder of an online hotel booking engine which was sold in 2003.

His core strengths include strategic planning, growth and development, risk management and technology. In recognition of his role in overseeing Corporate Travel Management’s strong growth, Jamie has twice been a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Les Szekely, Managing Director, Grand Prix Capital

Les Szekely B.A. LL.M. FAICD is the managing director of Grand Prix Capital (GPC). He functions as a board strategy consultant, a non-executive director and an angel investor focused on rapid growth businesses. He specializes in start-ups, privately owned and micro-cap listed businesses.

Les is an active business angel, mentor, and M&A consultant. His portfolio includes Hotelclub, Siteminder, DesignCrowd, Microequities and Rezdy.

Prior to founding GPC Les was a Tax Consulting Director with Deloitte Private and is the author or editor of 14 publications on tax planning. He is also engaged in pro-bono Boards including The 40K Foundation and the JCA Executive.

Booking’s War Chest Still Exceeds $7 billion after Buying Spree

It’s been reported in Skift that the price Booking Holdings agreed to pay for  HotelCombined was USD140m while the global giant also outlaid USD250 million for tours and actvities tech company FareHarbor. Small change really. Neither was mentioned in the acquisition announcements by Booking Holdings because they are “immaterial” – and it’s hard to argue. Booking Holdings is still sitting on USD7.3 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Aussie Tourism’s Economic Impact Could Reach $150 billion by 2030

Rohan Lund, NRMA

Australia’s tourism industry has the potential to grow visitor nights in Australia to one billion by 2029-30 and contribute $150 billion to the national economy, according to a new report from the NRMA called Are We There Yet?

The NRMA, the largest motoring organisation in Australia, is a major tourism investor owning a $800+ million portfolio across Thrifty Car Rentals, Manly Fast Ferries, Travelodge, Hotel Kurrajong and Holiday Parks in six states. More 

Travel IQ – A New Event That Celebrates The Business of Travel


Get set for Travel IQ, a new one-day conference that celebrates the business of travel. It’s at The Langham, Sydney, on October 24 and features a dynamic program packed with the leaders of Australia’s most influential and interesting travel companies.  

“Delegates will see the industry through their eyes, connect with like-minded peers and leave with a better understanding of where they’d like to take their business,” says event founder Martin Kelly.

“Travel IQ is an intelligent travel business forum designed to inform and inspire,” he adds.


  • Anthony HayesChief Operating Officer, Sealink Travel Group (SLK)
  • Anthony MoulderHead of Transport & Infrastructure Research, CLSA Australia
  • Anthea HammonDirector Hammons Holdings, owner Scenic World/Sydney Harbour Bridge Tourism Experience
  • Bob EastChairman Tourism Australia/ Chairman Experience Co (EXP)
  • Brett MitchellRegional Director APAC, Intrepid Group
  • Darrin GraftonCo-Founder, Serko (SKO)
  • David HammonDirector Hammons Holdings, owner Scenic World/Sydney Harbour Bridge Tourism Experience
  • Dax EddyExecutive Director, Jamberoo Action Park
  • Jamie PherousManaging Director and Founder, Corporate Travel Management (CTD)
  • Josh OakesDirector, The Sunshine Tribe
  • Les SzekelyManaging Director, Grand Prix Capital, early investor in SiteMinder and Rezdy
  • Nigel BentonPublisher, Australian Leisure Media
  • Robert HalfpennyManaging Director, Aurora Expeditions
  • Rod CuthbertExecutive Chairman, Rome2rio; Founder & Former Chairman & CEO, Viator
  • Rob SmithDivisional Director, Australia/New Zealand, Merlin Entertainments (LON: MERL)
  • Sue BadyariChief Executive Officer, World Expeditions
  • Simon LenoirCo-Founder, Rezdy
  • Tammy Marshall, CEO, The B Hive
  • Vasso Zographou/Michael SimpsonDirectors, Savills Hotels

Seats are strictly limited with a total capacity of 135 to ensure maximum delegate engagement. 

Further speakers will be added over the next couple of weeks, stay tuned for details. There are corporate partnership opportunities available, please get in touch if you’re interested.
Travel IQ Contact: 
Martin Kelly, (02) 9882-1575, (0414) 774-978,

NIB Holdings Buys QBE Travel Insurance

Consolidation in the travel insurance sector has continued with NIB Holdings Limited (ASX: NIF) buying QBE Travel, Australia’s fourth-largest travel insurer, for up to $25m, the final price dependent on performance. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2019. QBE Travel will be rolled in the World Nomads Group, which NIB bought for $95m in July 2015. The sector’s biggest travel insurer, Cover-More,  was bought by Zurich Insurance for $741m in April, 2017.

Australian Hotels Set All-Time Occupancy Record for Q2

Australia’s hotels were busier than they ever have been in the period from April to June with an average occupancy rate of 73.2% – “the highest for any Q2 on record”, according to STR. The record run came despite an overall increase in room supply of more than 2%. The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast during April were a significant factor with strong demand driving a revenue per available room increase of 24% for the quarter.

The Indians Are Coming – Strong Surge in May

Inbound tourism to Australia continued its steady rise during May with Indian market the strongest performer, recording a +20.9% increase over 2017, according to the latest ABS stats.  The biggest flops were Malaysia (-13.0%), the United States of America (-4.5%) and Singapore (-4.4%).

Meanwhile, outbound travel by Australians rebounded after a flat few months. Japan +20.9%, China +16.3% and Indonesia +11.0% recorded the best results. Worst were Thailand (-3.2%), New Zealand (-2.3%) and Fiji (-0.4%).

The Chinese Surge – Good News or Bad?

Graphic imagery of the forecast domination of Chinese tourists in the Australian market and part of an investor presentation by the Star Entertainment Group. Stats from Tourism Research Australia. The phrase never put all your eggs in one basket comes to mind…

HotelsCombined Bought by Booking Holdings

Accommodation meta-search company HotelsCombined – based in Sydney, Australia – has been bought by Bookings Holding for an undisclosed sum. HotelsCombined will be absorbed into the Booking Holdings maw with management reporting to its “leading  travel metasearch brand, Kayak.” “We’ve always been inspired by the entrepreneurial culture of Booking Holdings brands,” said Hichame Assi, CEO of  HotelsCombined.  Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, added, “HotelsCombined has built a strong brand with loyal consumers across APAC, and we believe the team will be a great addition as we expand our worldwide meta-search strategy.”