510 Travel, no stranger to the retail travel industry, is looking to expand its at-home division.
Years back the 510 Travel team was best known for its first travel agency, Avion Travel. A successful run saw the agency, with three locations, sold to the UK’s Airtours.
These days 510 Travel Owner, Ron Tereshyn, and CEO Operations, Mary Tereshyn, with a thriving bricks-and-mortar business on Kingston Road in Toronto, are letting agents know that they also have a division for home-based agents.
Ron has woken up at the crack of dawn for years to compile and create his Travel Hotline reports for clients, via the Travel Hotline at 416-510-2000, in operation for over 40 years, and in video format now too. Picking up on the success of the name, the Tereshyns are promoting their at-home division as The Travel Agent Hotline.
With all of their years of experience, the Tereshyns have learned a few lessons along the way about selling travel, including one or two that will no doubt ring true with fellow agents. Say the Tereshyns: “Never sell to relatives and friends. Everyone is looking for the best price possible. And everyone thinks you are making 50% commission off of them.”
We caught up with Ron and Mary for this latest edition of Sphere…
Sphere: How long has The Travel Agent Hotline division been up and running?
The Tereshyns: “We’ve had an at-home division for the last seven years, which we would like to expand. The Travel Agent Hotline is just one month old. We wanted a name that had a better ring than 510 Travel.”
Sphere: Why did you start The Travel Agent Hotline?
The Tereshyns: “We started this new division because we saw a need for change. Travel agents are being forced to pay out very high initial, yearly and monthly fees. Just to work and provide for their families. New travel agents especially are taken advantage of, the price of travel courses are ridiculously high, it takes years to build up your client base and you are not guaranteed a paycheck right a way. This business is dependent on many factors: how many years you’ve worked in travel, the size of your accumulated client base, deals falling through, weather, etc. So when you add fees to the mix it can get quite stressful.”
Sphere: How is The Travel Agent Hotline able to not charge membership fees?
The Tereshyns: “Not too many agencies have a history like ours. 41 years in retail travel [and] our first agency Avion Travel became so successful, we expanded to three locations, then we sold to Airtours. Our model is a mixture of storefront and home based agents.
“We are so fortunate to have most of our original staff working with us again, they have accumulated an incredible client base who love to travel. We have owned our building for over 40 years. The revenue generated allows us the freedom not to charge fees.
“Travel agents need to think about what works best for them. We unfortunately do not offer a travel school.”
Sphere: What do agents get in terms of services when they join The Travel Agent Hotline?
The Tereshyns: “First of all we have always paid our staff weekly. When commission is owed to you, why should we hold onto it for two weeks or a month.
“Support: We have full-time dedicated staff who almost work day and night. They are there to help and no question’s ever a bad one.
“You become part of a close knit family of travel agents with 10 to 40 years of experience. They are a wealth of knowledge and are so good with advice. We have a social media platform so staff can communicate regularly.
“As owners we are very hands-on. We are very well-respected in the industry. We will always make a phone call on your behalf and try to get any situation rectified.
“Daily marketing via video and telephone…
“Email marketing to your client base when our owner Ron finds great travel deals, they are shared immediately.
“We have partnered with Ensemble Travel Consortia, they offer unlimited marketing with Ezine which can be customized to your client base.
“Supplier training – we regularly have supplier training and have webinars available to all of our travel agents. We want our travel agents to sell whatever product their clients ask for.
“We also have a weekly staff BBQ in warmer weather every Wednesday, with a different theme weekly, from Jamaican jerk chicken, to burgers and more. Just RSVP so we have enough food.”
Sphere: Besides the savings with no membership fees, what’s the biggest advantage to joining The Travel Agent Hotline?
The Tereshyns: “The biggest advantages are that we offer a storefront for travel agents that are located close to Toronto, to meet with your clients or just to visit us for lunch and say hi. We also have our video hotline recorded daily with specials and showcasing a different resort, to share with your client base; telephone hotline of travel deals recorded daily (encourage your client base to listen daily); unlimited marketing available through Ensemble and access to all Ensemble tradeshows, training and conventions, destination vows wedding training and more. Plus, some of our seasoned agents can offer one-to-one, on-the-job training for anyone wanting to get into travel. This training is so valuable compared to sitting in a classroom. They will actually go through the motions of making bookings, invoicing, dealing with wholesalers, all the important elements of day to day in a travel agency.”
For more information call (416) 510-2200 or go to https://thetravelagenthotline.com.