A few years ago, the Travel Agent Next Door created The Agency Solution — a division specifically for smaller agencies who were struggling to stay above water with all of the back-office work and requirements.
With government subsidies ending and most agencies still struggling, here’s a Q&A with Louise Gardiner, VP, The Agency Solution, looking at how the pandemic has affected small agencies and why she says joining The Agency Solution is the smartest choice among the options open to them now.
Q. Has the pandemic caused more agencies to join the Agency Solution?
A. “Yes, as agencies begin to look to the future with their current business model, they know that reviewing their options is important. The opportunity of spending more time with clients and less time on back- office paperwork is very appealing as this means improved revenues — coupled with reduced costs.”
Q. What type of agencies are joining?
A. “Agencies that are taking time to review the full program and all its benefits and that undertake the financial analysis to see that sharing a small portion of some commissions grossly outweighs the huge costs of running their business as an independent.”
Q. What differentiates The Agency Solution from the large consortia?
A. “A consortium provides supplier agreements and marketing at a flat monthly fee no matter what you sell. They often provide technologies at additional fees. When you add up the annual cost for a program that provides minimal operational support you can easily pay $5K-$10K out of pocket for their program alone — plus you continue to pay other agency expenses such as GDS fees, accounting costs, TICO, IATA etc.
“The Agency Solution provides all that and more for far less. When you receive the benefit from all the marketing, technologies and full back-office support and pay a much smaller monthly fee — along with a small percentage of sales that you only pay when you sell certain suppliers — then this is a win-win for a smaller agency.
“Independent travel agents have been using this method for years with great success, as the support benefits coupled with the high rate of commissions, drives much better profitability. This will be especially beneficial as you ramp up your travel business over the next several years.”
Q. What are the top benefits The Agency Solution offers to smaller agencies?
A. “The same programs that have been embraced by independent travel agents but with the opportunity of staying with your own agency brand. Your clients continue to know you as you have always been known!
1. Customized marketing, social media content and a branded website is all included
2. Best in class commissions with an extensive list of preferred and approved suppliers
3. A support team that does most of the paperwork for you. You and your staff only need to invoice clients and we take care of the rest
4. Elimination of costs such as TICO, IATA, accounting, bank and merchant fees and rent if you choose to go home-based.
5. Set up and assistance with your outside contractors – the way of the future!
Q. Do agencies have to go home based to join The Agency Solution?
A. “The choice of staying in your storefront location or moving you and your staff home-based is your decision. We have agencies that started with us as storefronts then moved to home based later. We have agencies that have been home-based and rented a storefront and we have agencies that have stayed in their storefronts. The location of the agency is always the agency’s choice.
Q. What advice would you give to small agencies right now?
A. “There is no better time than today to scope out your options and find out why learning about The Agency Solution will bring you peace of mind. It’s always a good time to have a conversation and know what your options are —even if you are not prepared to make a change at the moment.
“With over 40 years of retail travel industry experience, I know that this solution is the best I have ever seen! I look forward to discussing your business goals!”