The ability to deliver value to member agencies, including new marketing tools and sources of revenue, remains a key to the success of any franchise, John Risner, general manager of Results! Travel, said in an interview with Travel Agent.
“Since we launched Results! In 2000 we have vastly expanded our support of our agency members and have benefited from a strong, positive response from the agency community,” Risner said. Sales volume has grown to $2.2 billion and Results! has a respected position within its Travel Leaders Franchise Group division.
When the concept was launched in May of 2000, Results! Travel became the first of its kind— a limited-service travel agency franchise organization, Risner says. It was created to fill the large gap in offerings between full-service franchises and those of much more basic consortia.
While still considered “limited-service,” Results! Travel now offers more than double the products and services to assist its member agencies for the same, original conversion fee. “We obviously tapped into something very important 10 years ago” said Risner. “At the start, one of the most attractive pieces of this franchise offering to agency owners was its airline override agreements. As suppliers have tried to limit their override programs, we have offered additional, exclusive tools to help our members continue to be as profitable as possible.”
The initial Results! Travel program offered overrides on major, preferred domestic airline and car rentals, along with the solid commission structures with cruise lines and tour operators. Results! also had a hotel program with preferred rates and last-room availability at major hotel groups. Other tools included a members-only extranet site, preferred air consolidators, CRS, travel insurance and visa service a call center and negotiated rate programs. Perhaps most important, Results! offered members the ability to maintain well-established, individual agency names.
“Retaining the brand identity of our members (largely brick and mortar storefront) agencies in their communities was and remains a core value that Results! delivers,” Risner says. “But equally important is our ability to listen to our members and serve their changing needs. For our members their brand is king.”
Risner notes that the past 10 years have seen massive changes in the agency industry, including veritable revolution in technology, marketing, staffing, networking and training. The ten years have seen Result! expand its support. One major example is the shift from agencies once dependent on air sales to leisure products. While roughly 25-30 percent of Results! members business mix remains ARC air sales, Results! member s have capitalized on the growth in cruise and tours sales.
Among the programs added in the past decade are direct marketing tools, e-mail campaigns, web sites for an affordable online presence, discounted rates and special amenities to spark cruise sales. Results! also has a comprehensive, health benefits package and education and training program supported by networking.
Results! members are also supportive and loyal. “As a small independent travel agency I saw the importance of belonging to a consortium or franchise organization,” explained Jerry Miyamoto, owner of Miyamoto Travel Service in Sacramento, CA, and a Results! Travel Member since December 2000. “Although I had my own override agreements, I joined Results! Travel to earn higher commissions and overrides and have access to experts in many areas of the business. I received all of these benefits and still retained the identity of my agency.”
Dianne Hardison of Hardison Corporation in Rock Hill, SC, joined Results! Travel in November of 2000 and recently celebrated her agency’s 25th anniversary. “The preferred suppliers and overrides have stayed intact, which is really important,” she said. “However, the program I get the most benefit from is their direct mail program. Every time these mailings go out, my phone rings. Let’s face it; I would never be able to do this kind of marketing on my own. I don’t have the staff or the time.”
“Every travel agent needs an affiliation,” Risner says. “Going it alone in a complex, changing industry no longer makes sense. The success of the agency networks and franchisers rests solidly on their ability to deliver value. Not only to members but also to suppliers. Why should an agent deny themselves the economies of scale or the range of affordable marketing and technology tools – as well as the support of knowledgeable staffs?”