We had a great meeting with Travel Bound president Richie Karaburun this morning, in which he talked about what the company accomplished in 2010, and what is planned for 2011. Notable among the company’s offerings are a credit bonus for selling hotel nights and a new competition that launches today.
The buzzword of the meeting was "Globality," which Karaburun acknowledged is not in the dictionary, but which suits Travel Bound’s current goals perfectly. The agent-only company is best known for its Italy tours, but offers trips to more than 130 countries around the world, including 10 that were just added last year. Much as Amazon.com started with books and then branched out to sell just about everything, Karaburun says that he wants Travel Bound to do the same for selling travel. "Globality is our word, and we have the product to back it up," he declared.
Currently Travel Bound is offering an agent rewards program that puts $5 onto an agent’s personal American Express-branded Travel Bound Rewards card for each hotel night booked in the U.S. and Canada; $10 per room night for certain major chains; and $15 for any room night booked in Las Vegas.
But the bigger news is of a competition that was just announced today to promote the company’s value of "Globality": The travel agent who books the most number of countries with Travel Bound will receive $10,000 in credits to use towards their own travel. "It’s a fun way to help agents realize that Travel Bound is global," said Cece Drummond, the company's director of strategic marketing and product development.
In terms of recent trends, Karaburun said that 2011 has started slow, but bookings are up for trips after April. This is a good sign, he noted, because when the booking window increases, it means that customers have confidence in their economy again.
And in current trends, Karaburun said that the current civil unrest in Egypt has demonstrated the importance of travel agents who can help out in a crisis. The company was able to reach every one of their clients who were in Egypt when the protests began, and were able to escort them safely out of the country.
"I wonder how Expedia contacted their clients," he mused rhetorically. Still, he said, just as the travel industry bounced back after 9/11, he believes that travel to Egypt will pick up again soon. "The travel industry is resilient," he said. "Egypt will come back."
The situation in Egypt also reaffirmed the value of global travel. "If something happens in one city, others are available," Karaburun said.