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Agency Uses Payment Plan to Encourage TravelDecember 12, 2008 By: George Dooley
If you are looking for ideas on how to get consumers to travel more, Ricci Zukerman, founder and president of Worldview Travel, Santa Ana, CA has a suggestion. A veteran agent, Zukerman asked her staff to find ways to help their clients during a time of financial uncertainty. One result is a payment program similar to retailers' layaway programs.
Worldview said that while most of its clients are moderately affected by the recently announced recession, they find the lack of consumer confidence has many of its regular travelers frozen in their tracks. They needed to come up with an innovative way to stimulate and inspire consumers to travel by making their financial commitment easier.
In response to the challenge, Worldview’s management team decided to initiate a payment program, similar to layaway, the company said. Worldview says it hopes this program will help its clients on several levels. “First, with the credit crunch being what it is right now, it would alleviate the problem of those who may not have the option of using their credit cards or lines of credit previously available to them. Second, it allows monthly payments to be made without the added cost of interest. And third, it allows the client flexibility to establish a monthly payment plan to best fit into their budget and lifestyle. From there, a Vacation Payment Plan was created.
“We have clients who we have known for many of our 34 years in business and are almost a part of our family," Zukerman adds. "We see them struggling and we wanted to do something. We hope by extending this optional payment program, a vacation made in bite-sized payments will fit more easily into their monthly budget.”
Although it is much harder to compete for consumer dollars at this time of the year, Worldview felt it was important to initiate the program immediately. “Giving someone the gift of travel during the holidays is one of the best presents you can give to a loved one," said Zukerman. "It’s a gift of time, of leisure and of memories, and you can pay for it in installments. You can’t go wrong with giving someone a vacation as no one ever wants a refund or exchange!”
In Worldviews’s perspective: “The travel business in general has been impacted significantly by the downturn in the economy. Even for those individuals not directly affected, there is a level of uncertainty not seen across the nation since the dark days following 9/11. Some claim the expansion of widespread gloom into the global community has arguably made the effects of this recession even worse than the impact of that time. Such perceived pessimism in the marketplace prompted Worldview Travel to find a way to inject some good news to consumers with this program."
Another positive response to the economy has been the unprecedented travel offers announced in the last several months. Land packages and cruises are being offered at rates not seen in years, as well as newly relaxed terms and conditions by these companies. “The sheer number of discounts, specials and sales across all types of travel products today is a shopper's paradise so we encourage our clients to travel now as we don’t know how long these rates will last,” said Zukerman.
The full-service travel agency suggests contacting one of its Vacation Specialists to first determine the vacation best suited to the traveler. After paying the initial deposit, clients can apply for Worldview’s Lay Away program and choose an interest-free payment plan that works best for them. Payments may be charged by credit card or automatically deducted from their checking account. A setup fee of $25 applies.
Worldview has more than 200 agents with offices in California, Florida and New York City, in addition to expert home-based agents in several other states. The agency is a member of the Virtuoso network. Visit www.worldviewtravel.com.