Travel agencies have been hit hard by the pandemic and are having to cut costs in order to survive. One option has been to join a host agency – but it does not have to mean giving up their storefront or branding.
Louise Gardiner CTM, Vice President, The Agency Solution by The Travel Agent Next Door talks here about options for smaller agencies to move to a home-based model – or keep their storefront and still save thousands in fixed costs.
Q. Are you seeing more agencies inquiring about joining The Agency Solution?
Gardiner: “Yes, every day I connect with more owners who are looking to review their agency operations during the pandemic. It’s always a good idea to know your options! The first step is to understand your financials and pursue ways to reduce costs. Secondly, you want to ensure that when the industry rebounds that you have all the marketing tools you will need to increase revenues. Scoping out both opportunities today keeps you fully informed. Smart owners are reaching out and asking the question ‘Is The Agency Solution the right fit for me?’ And in most cases the answer is yes.”
Q. Why is now a good time for smaller agencies to consider joining?
Gardiner: “The travel industry revenue has always been based on commission of sales and now that sales have decreased so has the revenue. Unfortunately, costs have, for the most part, remained static. ACTA has done a wonderful job in advocating for the small agency owner when it comes to staff salaries but what about other expenses such as benefits, accounting, telephony, insurances and licensing fees? This is where we can help significantly reduce costs. We have had owners save tens of thousands of dollars annually, especially smaller agencies who feel the financial crunch in today’s environment.”
Q. What essentially does The Agency Solution do for a small agency?
Gardiner: “We assist you in looking at your financials and determining what expenses can be cut. Because you join our organization as a branch, we can eliminate many costs including E&O insurances, IATA and TICO fees, expensive accounting programs and annual revenue engagements. We take away all the work and give you time back to grow your business through a robust marketing program that includes a bookable website, social media and both emails and postal delivery marketing pieces. And best of all, it’s an all- inclusive pricing model at a fee that small agencies can afford.”
Q. What if an agency wants to keep its storefront and brand?
Gardiner: “That’s the beauty of our program. You are the boss! You decide if you want to be a home-based agency or keep your storefront. For us it’s just a change of address and that can be done at any time – now, if you’re looking to save on rent costs, or later, if you want to work from your home. This means that you can operate exactly like you have in the past with your storefront location, your website URL, your same phone number and email address. You keep your agency brand and logo. Your clients will never know the difference but you will because you will have more time to do what you do best … sell travel!
Q. What is the biggest misconception about The Agency Solution?
Gardiner: “The biggest misconception is that if you reach out you will be pressured to join. This is far from the case. I’ve been in the retail travel business for over 40 years, I’ve been a VP of two large retail agency associations and my goal is to ensure owners understand who we are and what we do. Joining any organization needs to make good business sense. This is a process of discovery and I’m available to help owners through this!”