It's been six months since the official launch of The Travel Agent Next Door, which is now working with more than 60 independent travel agents across the country.
With this success comes a new Agency Support Program, designed for travel agency owners with sales up to $2 million who are looking to ease out of the back office and administrative side of operating an agency.
This has been one aspect of the company's direction since launch, though the majority of focus was placed on individual agent support. Founder Flemming Friisdahl said that the official extension of services is based on the same programs which allow agents and agencies to focus on front-end sales, while the team at TTAND take care of the rest.
"A lot of the agencies of $2 million or so don't have the support of a head office, they don't have the support of a marketing team, they might be too small to be part of the larger consortiums, and they're too busy then to do what they love: sell travel," he said, which is where TTAND hopes to step in. Services include telephony, insurance, registrations, membership fees, banking fees, errors and omission, merchant fees, marketing, and all the back office functions.
The company can also provide a website with a booking engine, a cruise booking engine, as well as tours and excursions, plus the Softvoyage car, hotel and insurance booking engine.
“We offer all this for a lot less than the agency could possibly do it for,” Friisdahl said, noting that they estimate joining TTAND can save up to $15,000. One example he referred to is a new member which eliminated costs by closing the storefront, while retaining sales and the existing client base.
"Even if they lost 10 or 20 per cent of their sales - which, there's no reason they would - they will take home close to four-times what they earned before because of saving on the costs that are now disappearing," he explained.
"It's a new way of doing business. It's, 'How do you stay in business in today's environment where commissions are getting tighter, suppliers are getting more aggressive on commission levels, where marketing is getting more expensive?'" he said. "Most of what we do, agents may not be doing it today, and that's not helping them."
In sum, TTAND's focus is on three elements - support, commission and tools - and according to Friisdahl, "I don't think anybody has all three lined up as well as we do."