Forward bookings for The Travel Agent Next Door are trending upwards and that’s good news for TTAND’s travel agent partners. Plus, there are plenty of new programs on the way, including one just for Group sales, and a brand new launch in Quebec. TTAND’s President and founder, Flemming Friisdahl, shares all the details – plus his take on service fees – in this edition of Take 5.
1. These are still very challenging times but hopefully we’re nearing the end. What is TTAND seeing in terms of trends with forward bookings?
“From the perspective of travel, I believe the worst is behind us and from October onward – and especially into 2022 – we will see customers in the skies again. We have doubled our sales from January / February 2021 going into March / April 2021. We just need to get past the present COVID outbreak. They say it is always stormiest before the sun comes out!”
2. What is the situation facing independent agents with the proposed winding down of CRB starting in July?
“It is very concerning to me if the government does not step up and support both independent agents and storefront agencies. I know ACTA and ACITA have been working hard to get the government to give sector specific funding, but we really need ALL travel agents in Canada to take half a day to get on the phone and social media to get their MPs to ACT. It is not hard, it just takes time. We have to band together as one community to make this happen! Don’t just assume someone else will do it for you!”
3. TTAND has recently made a lot of strong and positive initiatives around the issue of service fees. Can you tell us about them and why does TTAND feel service fees are so crucial, especially now?
“As Canada’s largest home-based agency, I feel we must take a lead in sharing the knowledge and programs we have available to our own travel agent partners. If all agents start to charge fees, then it will be the norm, and then consumers will not bark at it. YES some consumers will, but when you see big companies like FlightHub, with $3 billion in sales, needing creditor protection just a few months into COVID, it just shows we must charge a fee to make sure we can be sustainable during tough times. The key will be charging cancellation fees to customers if either the supplier or the customer cancels the trip. WHY? Because we did all the hard work already and we should be compensated for it just like any other business!”
4. TTAND recently announced its introduction into the Quebec market. What will TTAND offer to Quebec agents, and does this mean TTAND is now in every province and territory?
“We are SUPER EXCITED to be offering our services in the Quebec market. We wanted to be sure we had the electronic marketing, print marketing, our amazing and very customizable websites, our one-of-a-kind authorization forms, our service fee forms – and the MANY more tools we are building – available in French. Nobody will be able to offer comparable tools to ours. Yes, we are in every province in Canada including our first agent in Quebec already signed up, so super exciting for us!”
5. What other programs and initiatives are new with TTAND?
“MANY more things will be coming. As you may know we have our own technology department led by an amazing senior developer named Raj, he is just amazing. The kind of programs the entire team is coming up with is second to none. We will be developing a program very similar to companies like Umapped or Travefy, but the HUGE upside is it will be an integrated system with our accounting and back end system. We are developing an entire Groups program allowing the agents to do everything from collecting the consumers credit card PCI compliant, to being able to create manifests for the suppliers (in their format), to being able to cost the entire group.
“There are many exciting things we will be building and if you think about it, TTAND is 7 years young, and the first 2 or 3 years was spent just trying to survive and now, in just 4 years we have created the most programs of any host agency in Canada to serve our agents. Imagine what the next 4 years will bring. It is very exciting for us to be able to offer innovative programs to our travel agent partners.”