Flemming Friisdahl

Flemming Friisdahl – Founder and President, Travel Agent Next Door

Flemming FriisdahlThe Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) created quite the buzz when it launched earlier in March. As the latest at-home travel agent network, the company hopes to put home-based agents on the forefront of the travel industry with a growing number of suppliers, established marketing programs and 24-hour support for customers. We sit down with Founder and President Flemming Friisdahl to see how TTAND has progressed since its launch and where the company sees itself in the near future.

1. Since the official launch in March, how many agents has TTAND acquired, and how many do you foresee joining by the end of 2014?

To date we are over 55% ahead of budget projections and we are presently in discussions with 128 agents. We are very excited about the number of agents we have partnered with to date. Our future looks extremely promising. The most common question I get is, ‘how can you do so much for me when your fees are less than most other host agencies?’ The simple answer is our formula ensures that if our agents are successful, so will TTAND.

2. TTAND has secured 32 preferred and approved suppliers that include Transat, Kensington Tours and Princess Cruise Lines. As the company continues to grow, what specifically does TTAND look for in a supplier?

This is where we are so uniquely different from anyone else – we will not be going after any more suppliers. We will shortly be announcing some of our other suppliers who we have signed agreements with. You have to remember a travel agent that works with us can sell ANY supplier they want. The key is focus, you can simply not be everything to everyone and our strategy keeps our agents focused. Our supplier list, combined with the TRAVELSAVERS list, makes it one of the most complete supplier lists for any retailer in Canada.

3. How does TTAND’s affiliation with TRAVELSAVERS benefit travel agents specifically?

TRAVELSAVERS is set up very much like TTAND, meaning both companies exist to support travel agents. So having TRAVELSAVERS as part of the group gives us access to tools we otherwise would not have at this time. This includes the social media tool, access to 4,000 other travel agents, and more suppliers. We will also be using The Affluent Traveler Collection. The relationship with TRAVELSAVERS is very much a win-win.

Home Office4. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges home-based agents face, and how does TTAND help them overcome these challenges?

I believe many home-based agents do an amazing job but I feel that they need more support. In talking to many agents over the past eight weeks, the biggest thing that keeps coming up is that lack of support. I am not referring to the agents having someone call if they have questions. I mean someone working in the background to keep their brand top of mind with their customers, giving them new tools to make them more efficient and investing in their future. We have three major new initiatives we are undertaking and all help support our partners – the agent. What I like the most is hearing from our partners about what they need and our being able to deliver on those needs.

5. What’s in store for TTAND for the remainder of 2014 and in 2015? Any news you can hint at?

On top of the initiatives I mentioned earlier, we are working very hard to develop a program to help support agents who want to close their agency but need an exit strategy. We also have a very cool program for agency owners that want to start their own home-based business, using their own branding but with us providing the infrastructure to make it happen seamlessly and assisting them with growing their agents’ business on many levels. We are not a one-size-fits-all proposition!

For more information on The Travel Agent Next Door, visit thetravelagentnextdoor.ca.

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