Flying high: Brett and Louise Dann at their company Hunter Travel Group’s new headquarters in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil. HUNTER Travel Group managing director BrettDann has been in the travel industry for 33 years and although he does fewer consultations with customers these days due to his executive role, he knows how he likes to do business.
Which explains why the swank reception of HTG’s new multi-million dollar headquarters in Hunter Street is a far cry froma typical travel agency. Clients can sit at a bar serving coffee and refreshments, in a booth, on a lounge or at a table – wherever takes their fancy.
Corporate chic: Brett and Louise Dann in one of the five luxury levels at Hunter Travel Group’s new headquarters in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil
“Typical travel agencies are to me are like banks; here we are trying to do something very different,” says Mr Dann. “For us it’s not just a transaction but getting to know people and whatever their needs are –we are not pushy,we’re about forming long-term relationships.”
Likening HTG’s reception to a luxury hotel lobby, Mr Dann says the travel group, which operates 14 Helloworld Travel stores and 11 Helloworld associate stores in Australia – is keen to attract business from students at the NeW Space campus across the road.
“Student travellers are so different to what they were 20 years ago, many are looking for luxury trips,” he says.
Mr Dann got his start at 17 as an apprentice at“the original” Jayes Travel Service in Hunter Street in 1984. In 1999 he set up his own company, HTG Pty Ltd, and with a business partner opened Jayes/Traveland in Toronto.
Mr Dann’s wife Louise later joined the business–she is HTG’s retail general manager and a director ofDann Family Travel Group Pty Ltd, the major shareholder in HTG. Mr Dann and HTG general manager and fellow directorShaun Houstonoversee 150 staff.The Danns’ children, Nicholas and Madeleine, are both managers of HTG-owned Cruise Travel Centres in Kotara and Greenhills respectively.
Above HTG’s reception spread out over three storeys are a business travel section, a groups/product/marketing section, an administration, finance and sales level and the “Explorer Lounge” level,modelled on a first class airport lounge used by thegroup to host events and available to clients and for the business community.