Planning your retirement? Avoya Travel has released a case study on how two independent travel agencies in the Avoya Network set up their merger as a solution to retirement planning for their owners.
While more and more new travel professionals are joining the industry every day – for the Avoya Network, growth is up over 200 percent in 2017, the company reports – there are many independent travel agency owners who have been working hard for years and are starting to think about retirement. In fact, a recent report by Hot Travel Jobs showed that plans to retire have increased for both corporate and leisure travel agents.
Carol Howell and Diedre and John Bloom’s solution for their retirement planning was to merge their independent agencies by forming an LLC with an agreement to protect each other’s commissions and clients. With Avoya’s support, they formed Bloom and Howell LLC and increased sales, producing over $3 million in 2016.
For Howell and the Blooms, their plan has already enabled John to enter retirement and just book his existing return clients, while Diedre and Carol are still actively continuing to build their business.
Their plan protects Howell’s and the Blooms’ assets and books of business should either Howell or the Blooms not be able to continue working. Howell would finish their existing client bookings and give that commission to the Blooms’ estate, and the Blooms would do the same for Howell. Their plan to transfer the business to the remaining partner has been made much easier now that they are partners in the same LLC.
“Our plan provides peace of mind that our livelihood is protected and it is a logical path to our retirement. It has been seamless for our customers and hasn’t affected much of our day-to-day operations,” said Howell. “We like that we can still take our own Avoya Live Leads, give our clients the personalized service they expect from us, and take our own vacations. Avoya’s support has helped make it all possible, and with their Live Leads, reputation, and amazing technology we are able to run a successful business together.”
Howell and the Blooms also sorted out all the remaining details such as E&O insurance and bank accounts. They simplified, and saved money at the same time, by keeping only one insurance policy and one business bank account.
“Our initial plan was to control the distribution of our commissions and our book of business should something happen to us. The partnership we’ve formed works because it’s based in friendship, respect, and trust of one another,” said John Bloom. “It also works for our clients because we know how to sell each other’s specialties and share the same service values.”
Howell and the Blooms met and became friends through Avoya. They started out backing up each other’s businesses through Avoya’s My Colleague System when one took vacation or was out of the office. Throughout the years, they bonded over their like-minded philosophy of running an independent agency and their long careers in travel.
The Blooms have been a husband and wife agent duo since the mid-1990s. They moved from brick-and-mortar to home-based after 9/11, affiliated their independent agency with the Avoya Network in 2008, and have thrived ever since as million dollar top producers specializing in tours and river cruises.
Howell also joined the Avoya Network in 2008 after three decades in travel – from working a travel agency desk at Robinson’s to handling entertainment travel for Hollywood’s elite and blockbuster productions like “Sex in the City” and “We Were Soldiers”. Specializing in river cruises, Carol has been continuously honored as one of Avoya’s Best of the Best Independent Agencies for her $1 million-plus in sales each year.
“Any agent or agency that looks at combining their businesses of course needs to work out all of the details, but it can be done,” said Diedre Bloom.