In tough times, joining a host agency could mean survival for neighbourhood agencies
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The travel industry is living through the most precarious period in its history. Many companies may not survive this crisis and some of the most vulnerable in the industry right now are small agencies.
If you are a small agency that has been established in your community for a long time, you are probably struggling with paying the rent, paying salaries, paying hydro, phone and other costs. These don’t go away and right now most agencies are not seeing any revenue at all.
Small agencies across Canada are under threat of disappearing and this would be a loss for their communities and their customers.
Solution #1: BDC Low interest loans
One solution is to take advantage of current low interest loans to small businesses from the Business Development Bank of Canada.
For example, you can get approved for the amount and only take a little of it at a time – as you need it over 12 months. Each month you will ONLY pay interest on the amount you have taken out. After 12 months, you will start paying interest and principal over 36 months.
Here’s how that works — you pay interest on the FULL amount you borrowed but only pay back 40% of the amount you borrowed over the 36 months. At the end of 36 months, the 60% you have not yet paid back can be further spread out over a period of time.
Solution #2: Join a host agency
Another solution for these agencies to provide relief almost immediately is to close their business and continue as a “virtual” agency supported by The Agency Solution, a division of The Travel Agent Next Door.
“We want to help these agencies survive. We can show them how to cut costs immediately, so they are ready when things turn around,” said Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door.
Friisdahl said that two agencies that just joined in the past couple of months would not be here today if they had not. They were able to stop paying rent, hydro, fees, and a lot of other costs.
“We know there are a lot of small agencies in our industry across Canada who were already struggling to keep up. We encourage them to call us to discuss how we can support them moving forward,” said Friisdahl.
The Agency Solution caters specifically to the needs of the smaller storefront agency by reducing both workload and costs. The program eliminates the cost of regulatory fees, E&O insurance, bank fees and merchant fees and reducing the cost of accounting, payroll, telephones, toll free lines, GDS & technology. And if an agency decides to go virtual, it also eliminates rent.
At the same time, the agency can keep its own branding and identity and will receive customized marketing as well as a complete social media platform for the agency brand.
Agencies also receive support for managing any salaried agents and outside contractor associates.
“We have a model designed specifically for supporting smaller agencies,” said Friisdahl. “When we show them what we can do for them and how much time and money they will save, agency owners can see a way forward.”
Jill Wykes is a travel industry veteran who has held a series of senior management portfolios in travel corporations. A former chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, she is now an independent communications consultant and writer since retiring in 2011.
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