The Travel Agent Next Door has a different approach to preferred suppliers, restricting their number and focusing their agents on selling those suppliers. We interviewed several suppliers to see how this strategy is working for them, including Denise Harper, director of sales - Canada, G Adventures.
The Travel Agent Next Door is very focused on its preferred suppliers and has a limited the number, making it more lucrative for its agents to support them. Have they got it right? How is this strategy working for you?
Their strategy to have a limited number of preferred suppliers works extremely well for G Adventures. There is a strong focus on the mutual success of both businesses. We have monthly calls with the leadership team to review sales and to discuss strategies, marketing and training opportunities. They also have a SME program where 20 agents are chosen to focus on growing sales with a particular supplier. The agents who work with G Adventures are passionate about adventure travel and are keen to offer their clientele something different to the traditional ITC package. We have seen double-digit growth year-over-year because of the focus and specialization strategy. Being the only adventure travel tour operator allows G Adventures to be creative and innovative versus reactive and commoditized.
Part of the preferred supplier strategy is enhanced training opportunities. Is this something that your company is taking advantage of? Do you see results?
Absolutely. We participate in monthly webinars, create ongoing specialized training videos and deliver one-on-one sessions to better understand the agents’ individual requirements and how we can help build their business. We help agents overcome challenges and support them in closing the sale for their prospective adventure clientele. G Adventures has a virtual library full of resources for the agents like destination videos, marketing collateral and flyers which can all be customized to the agency and shared with the traveller. We also support the agent with our online booking tool, Sherpa, which helps agents save time and is accessible 24/7.
Another opportunity is marketing — how is this working for you?
Co-op marketing is a great way for us to get in front of their agents. Whether we are doing a promo or incentive, the in-house team makes sure our messages are communicated effectively across their channels. Also, as we are a preferred supplier, our message is never diluted by having another adventure supplier listed.
To be part of their agent marketing gives us eyeballs on where the agents are paying attention. We also market directly to the agents, reinforcing messages directly from G Adventures.
Are there any other benefits of working with The Travel Agent Next Door that you’d care to mention?
Investment from all levels of the organization including the president himself – Flemming Friisdahl. Marketing, supplier relations and operations are all extremely dedicated to the partnership. Flemming and his leadership team attend all our monthly meetings with a focus on building the business together. There is a true sense of partnership with this organization. Real personal investment.