TORONTO — With home-based agents making up just 23% of retailers in Canada, compared to more than half in the U.S. and UK, one industry veteran feels the time is right to launch a new company.
The Travel Agent Next Door is launching this week led by former Thomas Cook executive Flemming Friisdahl and with Penny Martin and Nancy Aube taking executive roles.
“The time is right for growth here,” Friisdahl told Travelweek, adding that he sees the number doubling in Canada in the next five years. “Home-based agents are taken seriously by suppliers.”
Friisdahl said he spent 20 years as a senior VP in sales making sure agents had the right tools to sell and that’s what he brings to the new company.
“I understand the supplier side of the business. I believe that gives me a unique perspective in the home-based business, and that will benefit our agents. They can focus on selling and we will provide all the tools they need.”
He said the Travel Agent Next Door name tells consumers “who you are and that you are local. You don’t have to explain anything”.
Programs offered include accounting services to set up a home business, health and dental benefit options, the ability to earn from 85% to 100% of commission, profit sharing, real time reporting and extensive marketing support, including customized websites.
Friisdahl said he sees the company appealing to three different groups – counselors now in a bricks and mortar office looking to work from home, existing home-based agents and cruise-only agents.
The company has signed up some 37 preferred suppliers including Trafalgar, Insight, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line. Linked with Travelsavers.
“No other home-based business has 22 marketing programs with 14 directed at consumers,” said Friisdahl. “We also have a corporate program with 24-hour support for consumers.”
The Travel Agent Next Door also has an exit strategy for an agency that wants to close and can’t sell. Its counsellors can work from home and the owners receive a finder’s fee and ongoing commission for two years.
The Travel Agent Next Door has an affiliation agreement with TRAVELSAVERS, giving its agents access to marketing tools, booking engines, an industry leading cruise program and a corporate program.
Based in downtown Toronto, the company has a branch office in Vancouver and ACTA, TICO, CLIA and IATA designations.
For more information, visit thetravelagentnextdoor.ca where there are three videos or call 416-367-TAND (8263).