Throughout the West, travel agencies of every size, shape and
description are finding ways to get ahead in a challenging travel
Their strategies, solutions, policies and programs highlight
growing trends and point a direction to a proactive future in which
agencies and agents not only survive, but thrive.
More than just an office: Just when it seems everyone has
declared the end of brick-and-mortar agencies, some retailers have
turned theirs into retail centers. They create comfortable,
family-friendly places that are fun for clients to visit and can be
highly profitable. Cherry Creek Travel in Denver chalks up $300,000
in annual sales in its retail center, which even includes a
currency exchange operation.
New ways to cut costs: Agencies today are using creative
approaches in this crucial area.
Dot Fitzgerald at Peninsula Travel in Sequim, Wash., has cut her
agency’s overhead by 60 percent with such moves as eliminating
almost all office paper.
Customer service: “Sales as service” is what AAA Oregon/Idaho
calls its approach, which includes a quarterly survey to gauge
client satisfaction. Morris Murdock in Salt Lake City added a
real-time chat feature to its Web site so customers could consult
agents. Fitzgerald, of Peninsula Travel, boards her clients’ dogs
at her own home. “With so much instability and new competition, the
winners of the future will be customer-centric companies that are
able to consistently provide personal service, whether online or
offline, at every single customer touchpoint along the entire
selling process,” says Joe McClure of Montrose Travel in Montrose,
A new kind of agency: With the industry changing so quickly, and
technology even faster, there are new ways to approach the entire
business of travel. At Ask About Travel in Temecula, Calif.,
managing partner Michael Hennes said the company uses its marketing
expertise on the Web to refer business to “fulfillment centers” at
two “traditional” travel agencies. Ask About Travel does not book
travel itself or work with clients but it does send substantial
business to the partner agencies and shares revenues with them.
After two years in business, the company is anticipating $4 million
in annual revenue.