Suppliers and Agents

Have you ever thought of the suppliers in the travel business who make your life as a travel agent easier? They have virtually invested their entire careers in working with you as a group because they recognize that the agent distribution channel is the one that has the most value to their businesses. Ruthanne Terrero, CTC

There are many suppliers out there who are absolutely dedicated to the travel agency community. While I obviously can't name them all, I can at least bring to light the names of those who have recently moved to other companies where they will carry with them the skills, the knowledge and the relationships they've acquired from working with travel agents over the years.

Juan Tamarit has moved from Travel Bound to Homeric Tours and Pascale Gherardi has left Island Destinations for her own company, Voyage by Pascale, which works only with travel agents. That move calls to mind Laurie Palumbo's transition from GoGo Worldwide Vacations to Island Destinations. On the hotel side, Ellen Gerchick is moving from Park Hyatt to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Tony Cortizas has moved from Sandals to Sol Melia and Mike Norton transitioned from Air Jamaica to Sandals. Earlier this year, Peter Rasmussen left AutoEurope to head up Travel Counsellors in the U.S.

Dedicated to You

Many of these suppliers are true road warriors who are constantly striving to develop enhanced products that will wow your clients. In some instances they are tirelessly devising methods to make your selling process more simple by providing more effective and easier-to-use technology. If they are tour packagers, much of their time is spent vetting new hotels and on-the-ground suppliers to make your clients' vacations seamless and memorable experiences. In other cases, they are constantly getting on an airplanes to visit with their travel agent partners personally in their offices or at trade shows throughout the world. (And we all know how tough it is to travel these days, so I suggest that the next time you see them you at least buy them a drink for their efforts!)

It Is a Small World, After All

If you think about it, the supplier side of the business has actually made the world a lot smaller for us—and in a good way, because they've made its far reaches much more accessible. Who would have thought years ago that Dubai would become both a major vacation destination and a desirable stopover location for those en route to even more faraway locales? The Maldives are remote, but everyone is talking about them because of their array of fabulous new resorts and the airlift that makes them easier than ever to reach. I keep meeting people who have been to South Africa repeatedly; they say they travel the distance because the end product is simply so amazing. I wonder if they imagined 20 years ago that they'd be traveling to South Africa at all, but now it's not difficult at all thanks to the many options available.

On a more less far-flung level, it's now easier than ever to spend a long weekend in London due to the travel packages available, and it is certainly simple enough to head over to Paris to see the spring runway shows or the Tour de France. You can even do a round-the-world tour via private jet or scoot up to Iceland or Alaska for a quick vacation, should the urge arise.

Selling the Dream

In a similar fashion, you as travel agents are making the world a smaller, more accessible place for your clients, and it's not just because in many cases you are the conduit to their purchasing these travel services. When you sit in front of customers and tell them of the marvels of what it's like to tour the Vatican for the first time, or to stroll along the Champs-Élysées at night just as the city's cafés start setting up their sidewalk tables for dinner, you are opening the world to them and putting them in a moment they would never be able to capture for themselves by simply studying a photograph.

It's a remarkable industry we're all in, isn't it? Aside from the obvious glories of travel that come along with it, it's the relationship between agents and suppliers that are in my mind, not only vital, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of the travel business.

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC EDITORIAL DIRECTOR rterrero@questex.com

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