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Rasmussen Heading Up Travel Counsellors

April 16, 2007 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent

Peter Rasmussen has hit the ground running in his new role as general manager of Travel Counsellors USA. Travel Agent caught up with Rasmussen, who is the former senior vice president, sales and marketing of Auto Europe, on his first full day in the company's Lake Mary, FL office. While just a few days past his official start date, Rasmussen had already ventured to Manchester, England, to visit Travel Counsellors' headquarters, as well as to Fort Lauderdale to attend CLIA's cruise3sixty conference, where the company had a presence in order to speak with potential network members.  Peter Rasmussen

Growing Carefully

Rasmussen told us that his goals for Travel Counsellors USA
include increasing the company's network of home-based travel agencies here in
the United States
while growing the number of business that those network members deliver.

While Travel Counsellors is new to the United States
(it launched last September), it's been in business for 14 years, with a
worldwide presence of 800 full-time agents.

While there are currently just 12 agents in the U.S.
network, Rasmussen says he is not setting a date or a goal that he wants to
meet any time soon for expansion; his main purpose is to grow the network

In the Lake Mary office, he was
already working with staffers "to make sure that our service delivery is
exactly what we want it to be," Rasmussen says. "There are always a
few tweakings."

The new general manager picks up from Graeme Clarke, who has
left to develop his own tour-operating program.

What lies before Rasmussen now is to follow up with a
"very large group" of agents who have expressed interest in joining
Travel Counsellors "to make sure they fit us and that we fit them,"
he says.

Travel Counsellors' Ideal Recruits

What is the profile of the agent Rasmussen will pursue? He
says he is looking for full-time agents only, who already have a travel agency
background. "We require a certain experience level," he says, noting
that Travel Counsellors will foot the bill for any agent joining the network to
earn their CTC through the Travel Institute, if they have not already done so.
"That sets a level of what we are looking for," he says. Rasmussen
suggests a Travel Counsellors candidate could include "perhaps a person
who ran an agency who maybe decided to take their book of business and work
from home. And they would sell every type of travel, from a single airline
ticket to a full-blown $45,000 cruise."

The fee schedule for being a member of Travel Counsellors is
flat, meaning all agents pay a monthly $75 fee and retain 60 percent of their
net revenue.

In return, Travel Counsellors provides all back-of-the-house
systems and maintains all client paperwork, so that agents can forge ahead to
grow their businesses. Upon joining, new members are trained and
"hand-held" until they are ready to go it alone.

"My feeling is, if you run an agency today and keep 60
percent of what you earn, you've done very well," says Rasmussen.

Jeanie Leonard is one of the first U.S. members of
Travel Counsellors. Based in Vermont,
Leonard says Travel Counsellors has "made me feel that helping my clients
find that perfect vacation that they wanted, not what I had to sell, really was
what it is all about."

Leonard, who has four years of experience with another
agency, says that some of the benefits of working with the company include an
Intranet service and back-office support, which allow her to grow her business.

"We have our own technical support persons to update
our computers, we receive our certifications for CTA, CTC, ACC, MCC, ECC and
Destination Specialists, all provided by Travel Counsellors. We also have our E
& O (Errors & Omissions) insurance provided for us, plus we have the
support of other Travel Counsellors from all over the world to get destination
recommendations from," says Leonard.

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