The Travel Agent Next Door set a new milestone in Canadian history last Friday night in Punta Cana, with founder Flemming Friisdahl announcing a new partner incentive program for travel agents.
The announcement was made during the closing ceremony of TTAND’s annual conference, which took place from April 13 to April 20 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at the Majestic Colonial Resort. Speaking on stage alongside Penny Martin, vice president, agent experience, Friisdahl disclosed that a cheque of $25,000 would be the first of many milestones to jumpstart the new program.
Speaking to PAX, Friisdahl said: “The agency cheque is given out to our partner incentive program that we started, and since we’re making profits, we’re sharing that profit with our agents based on them having done 70 per cent on preferred and approved suppliers. That $25,000 cheque is symbolic, and we sent every single primary agent an email with the amount that they get for the override.”
The move to start an exclusive partner incentive program, which Friisdahl noted that to his knowledge was the first of its kind in Canada, comes on the coattails of a week filled with active learning and networking experiences between approximately 140 travel agents and 24 suppliers from across Canada and the U.S.
This year, Friisdahl wanted to create a more engaging and opportunistic conference experience for the agents, done so by adding smaller group breakout sessions and panels between agents and suppliers, to make sure travel agents used the week of networking to their fullest potential. “You’ve heard me say this many times this week, the three W’s: it’s gotta be a win for the agent, it’s gotta be a win for the suppliers, and it’s gotta be a win for The Travel Agent Next Door,” Friisdahl told the crowd. “If it does not check those three boxes, it’s not a good deal for all of us.”
Earlier in the week, PAX spoke exclusively with Friisdahl on the overriding theme of this year's conference, and learned more about the direction TTAND is heading, as the agency prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2019.
"We limit the number of suppliers we have at conference and for me, it's not about how many [suppliers] we can have; we actually cut it off at 24 this year, plus Ensemble, which brings it to 25," Friisdahl explained. "I'm a greta believer that more is not always better, and the suppliers that are here don't pay a ton to be here, but for me it's about having as many agents here as possible to interact with the suppliers because if the suppliers get to spend time with the agents, then the agent is going to be more comfortable selling the product, and at the end of the day, that means we sell more. Our company is driven on the agent's success, and if they're not successful, we're not successful."
The final evening in Punta Cana concluded with an awards ceremony, and dinner at the Majestic Colonial Punta Cana, where TTAND recognized top-selling agents. Friisdahl also announced the location of next year’s conference, which will take place on April 27, 2019 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.