Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) turned nine this week, marking its anniversary with a special message of thanks to its team, as well as its growing network of travel advisors and supplier partners.
“To all of the agents and agencies who have chosen The Travel Agent Next Door as their host agency, all of the support staff in Canada and in India, and to all of our supplier partners who have supported The Travel Agent Next Door over the years, thank you!” wrote the company on its Facebook page on Monday (March 20). “We are excited to see what will come this year and beyond! Happy 9th birthday, TTAND!”
When company Founder and CEO Flemming Friisdahl started the host agency back in 2014, he wasn’t entirely sure how the industry would respond.
“We didn’t even know if any agents would join us,” Friisdahl told PAX in an interview back in 2018, reflecting on the company's early days. “I mean, we thought they would, but we could never know for sure. We didn’t have a line-up out the door.”
But as the years went by, and as people started to see that TTAND was in it for the long run, the company grew, expanding its network of travel advisors and supplier partners significantly, while also investing in the latest backend technologies.
“We did things slow and steady,” as Friisdahl put it.
All about the “three Ws”
It’s a strategy that has worked. TTAND, after almost a decade, now boasts a network of more than 1,100 travel advisors, supported by 45 staff members, according a company update that Friisdahl shared with suppliers at its annual year-end VIP reception in Toronto last December.
At that time, Friisdahl said TTAND would likely expand to 1,200 agents and grow its staff to 50 in 2023.
TTAND’s growth revolves around what Friisdahl has repeatedly called the “three Ws” of success: strategies that are a win for suppliers, a win for agents, and a win for The Travel Agent Next Door.
READ MORE: TTAND unveils growth strategy, updated logo & groups program at VIP supplier event
“We all have the same skin in the game,” he told suppliers at that event in December. “I don't earn anything from you if I don't get sales. That's how we treat all our partners. We’re trying to do the best we can, for all, so that it’s an equal playing field.”
The year ahead
And, coming out of COVID, sales have been strong.
Last year, TTAND’s total transactions amounted to $255 million, Friisdahl revealed. This represents a 53.5 per cent increase from TTAND's 2019 figures, which came in at $165 million.
Friisdahl, in December, said he expected 2023’s sales to reach $305 million “at minimum.”
TTAND, which joined the Travel Leaders Network in 2021, ended last year with refreshed logo designs and a plan to introduce a new groups and itinerary program this spring.
This proprietary technology, which is complimentary to agents, will manage rooms/staterooms, create custom manifests for suppliers, send pre and post-trip emails to clients, offer auxiliary sales prior to departures and create an itinerary program.
The future of TTAND, meanwhile, is defined by a promise to not increase fees or charge more for the programs, training and support it provides to its agent partners, Friisdahl said.
And to provide agents with direct support, when needed.
“Every agent gets a call from us every three months,” Friisdahl told PAX in December, noting that agents have the option of scheduling an appointment with him, if they want one.
TTAND is now gearing up for its 2023 national conference at Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres, happening from April 18-25.
PAX will be there, so stay tuned for our in-depth, on-location coverage.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today! Click here to follow PAX on Facebook.