“More travel agents will switch to home-based”: Flemming Friisdahl
Flemming Friisdahl, The Travel Agent Next Door

“More travel agents will switch to home-based”: Flemming Friisdahl

In this week’s Take Five interview, we sit down with Flemming Friisdahl, Founder of The Travel Agent Next Door, to discuss the future of the home-based sector and how the company’s new partnership with TL Network is paving the path for continued success. He also shares his #1 tip for travel agents in 2022.

 


 

There’s been a definite shift in recent weeks, with people being more open to travel and just returning to ‘normal’ life. What are your agents telling you about bookings right now? Are they seeing all this pent-up demand finally translate into real bookings?

We are seeing both. Some consumers are ready to go no matter what, and others are still holding back. The upside on the consumers who are travelling is that the average spend is higher than prior years. Consumers are going into higher-end properties or higher category cruise staterooms, which makes the commission stronger for the agents and the supplier – a win all around!

For the past two years, we’ve seen companies shift their focus to things like updating operations and enhancing product/resources, during the downtime in travel. Can you tell us what TTAND is currency focused on at this stage of the pandemic?

TTAND was very fortunate that we did not have to lay off or reduce our team – we’re probably one of the only companies in our space that kept everyone. So we have been spending those two years on continuing to grow our technology and this continues to make us best in class. You now only need a new customer’s first name and e-mail address and then from there we can gather all their information, from credit card info to passport info to marketing preferences.

 

Last year, TTAND announced it was joining TL Network. How has this new partnership played out so far?

There were three key reasons we made the change to TL Network. 1) The cruise space: they have the most pre-blocked cruise dates with extra amenities and added value. 2) They have the best luxury program and the most Four Seasons Hotels – you would be surprised how much they have! 3) They have a great support system and back-end system! We have seen better results in all three of these areas already.

 

We’ve heard how many agents have either switched to, or for the first time become a home-based travel agent as a result of the pandemic. Now that we’re emerging from the pandemic, and with many people returning to offices to work, what can you tell us about the home-based sector and its future? Do you foresee continued growth?

Two things are for sure: the IC (independent Contractor) sector will continue to grow – more and more travel agents will switch to home based for many reasons – and also, we have never seen so many potential new people wanting to become travel agents. Our next class is full and we are full in the one after that. So many people want to become travel agents – it is amazing!

 

Finally, what’s the main tip that you have for travel agents for 2022?

The number one tip is to get out in front of your customer. Make sure they know you are alive, doing well and ready to serve them. Many consumers are looking for new travel agents, with close to some 30% of agents leaving the industry and that number could be much higher. Out of sight, out of mind and you want to be top of mind, no matter if the clients are looking at travelling or not travelling now.