Last night, The Travel Agent Next Door held its fifth annual supplier appreciation night, where approximately 120 people came out to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
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Amidst good friends and good food, it was mostly a night to say thank you to the travel partners who continue to support TTAND in their efforts year round, says founder and CEO, Flemming Friisdahl.
To say that the company's been doing well since it started five years ago (it's still the youngest host agency in Canada, Friisdahl notes), would be an understatement—TTAND's sales volume has increased from $40M in 2016 to $120M in 2018 and it's projected to hit $170 million in 2019. By 2020, Friisdahl says he expects a sales target of $220M.
Through its agent commission plan, TTAND agents earn more, and one of the things that the company has been most successful with over the last few years is in focusing agents on preferred and approved suppliers. This year alone, there was an 18 per cent growth in primary agents with a sales growth at almost 45 per cent and overall, TTAND grew to 435 Primary/365 Associate agents.
"Our income is almost the same between our Preferred, Approved, and others...we really don't make more money on Preferred, because we're paying it to the agent," Friisdahl explained. According to Friisdahl, TTAND gets many requests every year from suppliers who want to become
It's all about partnerships
TTAND supports three kinds of agents: primary agents, associate agents, and brand new agents. "A primary agent must earn 70 per cent on their preferred or approved suppliers," Friisdahl said. "We've put an incentive in place that we pay out as a profits sharing at the end of the year, and we call it a Partner Incentive Program. There are no minimum sales, because I want everybody to be motivated, and it's at no cost to you."
Last year, at TTAND's annual conference in the Dominican Republic, the agency paid out $25,000 in support of agents.
Another popular program is TTAND's Millionaire Program, in which to qualify, agents must reach $125,000 in preferred and approved supplier commission, and an agency must reach $375,000. The incentive begins for agents the minute they sign up with TTAND.
New this year, TTAND also launched its Z.I.P program, which is a deferred payment program where clients can pay for their trip over three, six or 12 monthly payments and pay a flat fee – no interest. Also launched this year is TTAND's The Agency Solution, spearheaded by Louise Gardiner, which TTAND hopes will bring in new agencies with sales between $500k and three million dollars.
Back to school
Providing continuous education and ongoing learning to agents is one of TTAND's leading attributes.
While the agency provides easy access to marketing materials and online training already, now, TTAND is launching its own university—and don't worry, the tuition costs are nothing to be afraid of. Not just open to agents, suppliers can also sign up for TTAND University and take advantage of a series of online course, which, in order to pass, require a score of 80 per cent or higher, which ensures all participants fully understand the content upon completion.
TTAND has also just launched a new credit card authorization program, which allows agents to send an electronic authorization form to their customers, ensuring that names are spelt correctly, the insurance waiver has been signed, the passport is valid for the duration of the trip and that the credit card approval form has been signed.
TTAND also has an additional program that allows for direct deposits at some of Canada's leading financial institutions, including RBC, BMO, CIBC, TD, and ScotiaBank. Not only does it make payments quick and easy, but it helps to reduce fraud.
Next year's national conference will be held April 17 – 24, 2020 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with an expected 220 agents. A special give-back day is also planned, and more details will emerge soon.
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