Although my company is deeply involved in the design and sales of Travel Related Incentives and Rewards, first and foremost, we are a travel agency. Everything we do here is for the purpose of gaining access to travel customers.
Travel Agencies have been through some pretty big changes over the years starting with the airlines deciding that we didn’t deserve a commission for our services anymore. That sort of snowballed through many other travel service providers as the Internet opened up access to many of the same travel sources that we travel agencies used to call our own.
Today, instead of earning a commission by simply booking reservations for their clients, travel agencies must specialize in areas where they can guarantee travel service providers a large number of travelers. This allows the agency to negotiate rates below what is available to the consumer directly. So, the travel agency of this new era is now working for the travel services provider instead of the traveler. To make the new concept work, agencies are always looking for favorable pricing on the most desirable types of travel and then struggle to find the 1000’s of travelers they need so they can keep their contracts.
I developed my business model a number of years ago before the commission crunch began and unknowingly got a jump on the trend. I decided to try and market travel packages through the Human Resource departments of large companies. I put together cruise packages based on favorable rates I was getting from a few cruise lines sailing out of Florida. I offered these discount packages to employees as a company benefit. The companies loved it and were quite willing to put my flyers in their employee’s pay envelopes each week. That was almost 20 years ago and I still have a few companies that still use my original program today.
Getting really low rates on the most desirable types of travel is great but getting it for free is even better! While most agencies were desperately looking for more travelers, I knew if I could provide the travel services for little or nothing, this would never be a problem for me. I just had to figure out how I could get someone else to pay all or at least some of the travel expenses.
Living in Florida I watched as condominiums were being built one after the other from one coast to the other and all points in between. These were time share condo developments and they were some of the nicest resorts that Florida had to offer. They had a lot of empty suites week after week and they were looking for travelers too. I made a few calls and soon after I had arrangements with dozens of resorts that would give me access to their accommodations simply to have the opportunity to show my travelers around in hopes they would buy. All I needed now was a cost effective way to let people know what I had to offer.
It wasn’t just me that was looking for customers; everyone that was in any kind of business was looking for customers. I got together with a few marketing managers I knew and proposed that we work together. If they would cover the cost of the fees, I could give them a travel certificate that they could in turn give to their customers in reward for their business. It wasn’t long before I had several business owners who were promoting my travel packages by purchasing travel certificates from me and then giving them out to all their customers. It was the perfect idea: Travelers got to go to great places almost for free, my business associates got terrific sales incentives at a great price and I got plenty of travelers to fulfill my contracts with all my fees prepaid!
Since then I’ve design 100’s of travel certificate programs. The scope of each program is based primarily on the amount of money the business wants to pay per certificate towards the fees. The travelers makes up the difference but still has access to deeply discounted travel services that they would not be able to get elsewhere.