The Classic Touch

Kenneth Shapiro I was exchanging e-mails with a travel agent pal of mine the other day, and I happened to mention that we had just wrapped up a cover story on Classic Vacations (“A Modern Classic,” page 22), and I asked her if she ever worked with them. Not 10 minutes after I clicked on send, she called

By: Kenneth Shapiro

I was exchanging e-mails with a travel agent pal of mine the other day, and I happened to mention that we had just wrapped up a cover story on Classic Vacations (“A Modern Classic,” page 22), and I asked her if she ever worked with them. Not 10 minutes after I clicked on send, she called me.

“I just wanted to say this over the phone because I feel so strongly about it,” she said.

She went on to tell me how she worked with Classic “from the very beginning” and how they had always been one of her favorite companies. She said she especially likes Classic because she knows her clients are going to be treated better and come away happier.

“There’s no ‘moo time’ with Classic,” she said. “Customers are never treated like cattle.”

Unfortunately, however, as a Signature agent, she cut back on how often she uses Classic when Signature ended their preferred supplier arrangement with them, meaning her commission went from 15 percent to 10 percent. She said she still uses Classic occasionally for some clients, but not as often as she used to.

I think her story is probably typical of a lot of agents, and it really is unfortunate that a falling out between a couple of powerhouse companies in our industry can have such a widespread, negative effect on frontline agents.

From Classic’s point of view, this is nothing that can’t be fixed, and they have an excellent new team of executives in place working to overcome past conflicts and developing new relationships. For my friend’s sake at least, I hope they’re successful. Furthermore, for what it’s worth, Classic’s executive team also happens to be some of the nicest people you will meet in this industry. From Ron Letterman, the chairman, and Gregg Brockway, the president, all the way down to the operators in the call center, they are easygoing and professional and a delight to work with. Niceness is certainly not essential in a business relationship, but it sure doesn’t hurt either. K.S.

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