While the economy has been in a downturn, Brendan Tours continues to look ahead by investing in technological improvements that can help several branches of the travel industry thrive.
Garry Murphy, president of Brendan Tours, explains that the company remains aware that a startling number of travelers could not name their travel agents. Devoted to the agency community, this motivated the tour operator to create a source that would connect clients with agents when it came time to travel again. In comes ePartner.
Brendan Tours launched the new program in February with the goal of building a strong, loyal relationship between clients and their travel agents. “Retail travel agents are our bread and butter,” Murphy said. “This is the way to close the loop between agents and their clients."
Before clients depart on trips, they fill out an online survey that requests such particular information as personal data, special interests, food requirements, and anything that can be of use to help make the trip more enjoyable. After the clients’ tour is complete, they will, again, fill out a questionnaire about future travel plans and their desired destinations for vacations.
This information is then stored and sent to the clients’ travel agents to save on file. The agent can look through the information and connect with his/her clients by offering trips and deals that suit their wants and needs. Agents will also receive a statement listing the bookings awaiting deposit and full payment, documents that have been printed and sent, and clients who have not yet checked in online.
The program will allow Brendan Tours to send co-branded personalized communication to clients, referencing the booking agent and improving client service levels by providing additional travel information. Value opportunities are also offered, continuing to build the relationship with agents as well as Brendan Tours. These offers include a 5 percent Repeat Traveler discount, which includes a $100 Recommend a Friend discount that can be redeemed when clients and their friends book with agents they used for their last trip.
ePartner benefits all parties involved, as agents receive business from returning clients, clients receive discounts and a personalized relationship with their agents, and Brendan Tours continues to send people on their trips.
While travel agency owners and managers have accepted ePartner with welcoming arms, individual agents are still warming up to the idea. Murphy explains that the agency managers recognize that the program will deliver although some agents remain concerned about the sharing of client information.
“We are cross referencing,” Murphy said, "allowing agents an even greater chance to make a repeat booking."
The program will not cost anything except for the agents’ time that it takes to register online and to get their clients to register. For agents that have clients who prefer self guided vacations, Brendan Tours has also developed iNavigate, a new FIT reservation system.
“The new reservation system dynamically packages our product via a password protected Internet,” Murphy said.
In the past, agents were forced to rely on memory for what sells. Now, with iNavigate, clients can research the trips that they want to take and give agents particulars about their desired vacations. Then agents can look online at a detailed list of what is offered and book the trip. iNavigate also eliminates unnecessary phone calls to reservationists, creating a simple and stress-free booking process.
Interested agents can e-mail [email protected] and can be trained at Webinar or a DSM will come in and personally train agents on both programs.