People looking to re-enter the workforce with a career in travel are one of the biggest opportunities for Independent by Liberty Travel, a new home-based travel agent brand by Liberty Travel parent company Flight Center Travel Group. Travel Agent spoke with James N. Bovino, brand leader for Independent by Liberty Travel, shortly after last week’s announcement of the new company’s launch, for more details.
Bovino says that those who are looking to reenter the workforce, saying “I’ve always wanted to be a travel agent,” are one of the biggest opportunities for the new brand.
“Many of our agents, they know our sister brands really well, so when they join us, it gives them that instant credibility of associating themselves with such an iconic brand in the industry,” Bovino says.
Referrals by current Independent by Liberty Travel agents are one of the company’s biggest recruiting sources, Bovino says, although the company is also planning to grow its ranks with traditional methods, such as print and online media and industry tradeshows, as well. The new brand also intends to leverage its relationship with other Flight Center Travel Group brands, such as famous brick and mortar travel agency brand Liberty Travel, to draw in new agents.
“Our company believes in traditional brick and mortar retail businesses,” Bovino says. “We’re responding to the change in the workforce. I think it’s really a concept for those that want to still be a part of the industry, but maybe don’t want the same type of structure that we used to work with.”
One notable benefit will be the ability of Independent by Liberty Travel agents to sell from the entire Flight Center Travel Group portfolio. “They can enjoy very competitive commission tiers with commission splits of up to 90 percent,” Bovino says.
Independent by Liberty Travel will also provide agents with booking and financial systems from the Sabre suite of products. “We do all the support for them as well,” Bovino says. “We offer a full compliment of enrichment courses, and we’ll train them in our system.”
The brand will offer a number of courses through its iUniversity system on topics like entrepreneurship and running a small business, as well as a dedicated support and operations team. Agents will also be able to interact and network with fellow Independent by Liberty Travel agents through online sessions and social events. “You feel like you’re part of a larger community,” Bovino says.
The brand launch comes as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, and consumers warm to the value of travel agents.
“I think the advent is really chiefly due to advanced mobile technology and improvements in that area,” Bovino says. “People want their independence, a greater opportunity for flexibility in lifestyle and career. We’re responding to that need.”
Mobile technology and the Internet, however, have led to an information overload that’s made travel agents more important than ever in the eyes of consumers.
“I think it’s really incredible that agents have become so hot in the industry lately,” says Bovino. “The Internet has become so cluttered with so much information, much of it frankly unreliable, we feel that people want a vacation that is tailored to their specific needs, and they value the expert guidance and specific tips that only an agent can provide.”