dnata, the world’s fourth largest air services provider has announced the signing of a joint venture agreement with leading independent travel company Travel Counsellors, to launch a revolutionary service-based travel model into the UAE. The venture is currently recruiting with the service expected to commence in April of this year. Founded in 1994, Travel Counsellors is a global travel agency with a distinctly personal touch. The company’s customers benefit from having their own personal Travel Counsellor who takes pride in getting to know their clients personally, providing them with the highest levels of personal service and taking care of all their travel requirements, down to the last detail. Travel Counsellors currently has over 1,100 home-based professional travel consultants in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Canada, all running their own businesses from home whilst being supported by over 240 staff from its UK head office and global offices worldwide. The partnership with dnata represents Travel Counsellors’ first joint-venture undertaking. The joint venture will operate in the UAE as Travel Counsellors; the partnership will combine dnata’s market experience, industry contacts and supplier relationships with Travel Counsellors’ proven track record in recruiting the very best home-based travel professionals, providing them with all the tools, technology and support to grow hugely successful travel businesses from home. Counsellors in the UAE will be able to sell a full range of travel products, benefiting from both the company’s existing global travel deals and its new partnerships with key suppliers in the region. In line with dnata’s objective to ‘delight our customers’, the Travel Counsellors approach will offer an intimate, personalised travel service that customers can avail of without leaving their home. Each customer will be assigned their own personal Travel Counsellor who will provide a highly personal and bespoke service based on the specific travel requirements of each individual, using the company’s award winning technology to tailor-make travel itineraries. “For dnata, branching out into a relationship-based consultation service was a natural progression as we are constantly looking for ways to connect with the local market on a personal level,” said Iain Andrew, Divisional Senior Vice President for dnata’s travel services. “The business model and proven experience of Travel Counsellors provides a perfect fit for our business and we have full faith that our partnership will not only be of benefit to both companies, but most importantly, to the residents of the UAE.” “As a company we are going from strength to strength and we have proven our highly relational business model can flourish even in the toughest economic climates,” said Steve Byrne, Managing Director for Travel Counsellors. “We felt this was the right time to take our expansion strategy to the next level and believe the market in the UAE is ideal for us – the economy is strong and it is strategically located for future expansion.” The operation in Dubai will be headed by experienced industry professional Harvey Lines, formerly Director of Operations across the Middle East at corporate travel firm Wings Travel Management and holding previous positions at British Airways including responsibility for BA’s commercial activities across the Middle East, Pakistan and Central Asia. He will be responsible for driving the business forward across the UAE, recruiting and supporting the very best agents, from both leisure and corporate travel backgrounds, to build their own businesses as part of Travel Counsellors. To establish the joint venture between dnata and Travel Counsellors, the new partnership aims to recruit 20 agents from across the UAE by the end of the year and provide them with all the tools, training and on-going support to enable them to run and build their own relationship based travel businesses from home, and then to rollout the model to the rest of the GCC. These recruits will be experienced travel professionals or those who have the desire to provide excellent customer service, demonstrating a passion for travel and the focus to run their own business.