The Travel Agent Next Door restricts the number of suppliers and has innovative programs to ensure their agents are focused on those suppliers. Here’s Ron Lonsdale, vice-president, Canada at Collette with his thoughts about working with The Travel Agent Next Door.
The Travel Agent Next Door is very focused on its preferred suppliers and has limited the number of them, as well as making it more lucrative for its agents and agencies to support them. How is this strategy working for you?
Definitely it is a win/win partnership that is mutually beneficial for both our companies. We invest a great deal of resources and support towards our travel agents to earn more commission. Product knowledge is key, having fewer suppliers allows the agents to know the product better and the agents feel more comfortable and confident to sell Collette's higher margin tours. The agents are much more engaged and invested to sell guided tours … since we’ve become a preferred supplier, we’ve had a good amount of growth year on year, and the strategy keeps the agent’s focus on Collette various travel styles.
Part of the preferred supplier strategy is enhanced training opportunities. Is this something that your company is taking advantage of?
Yes! We offer comprehensive learning through our Collette University program which allows agents to become specialists in their field and take advantage of very attractive travel discounts. We provide consultative training, our whole philosophy and strategy in partnership is through transparency whereby we share best practices and competitive intel to help the agents over any objections to get the sell.
Another opportunity is marketing — how is this working for you?
We offer many marketing opportunities through our collaborative efforts including mailing campaigns and loyalty options for guests. We have an abundance of resources, including our new Digital Asset Management (DAM) online library that will give the agents access to our YouTube videos, photos, blogs, electronic flyers and templates.
Did your company attend the conference?
We did; it was a very good investment, overall the conference had a great vibe and feel with a ton of energy.
What opportunities did the conference present for your company?
The one-on-one sessions were invaluable, it really allowed us time to hear and learn about how we can better serve and support the agent’s book of business. We also participated in a workshop, which gave us a tremendous opportunity to put together the framework for individual marketing plans.
How would you rate this conference, as compared with others?
The conference is a lot of fun and very informative with a great theme and focus. The message is quite clear with a purpose. The leadership team puts a ton of time and effort into organizing the agenda to make it work for all the participating agents and suppliers.
Are there any other benefits of working with The Travel Agent Next Door that you’d care to mention?
From an administrative perspective, we are able to have complete access to everybody in the organization from the President down. The relationship is based on a great deal of respect which makes it easy for both our respective companies to focus on the targeted goals.