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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 8:58 AM 

One year of The Travel Agent Next Door

One year of The Travel Agent Next Door

The launch of yet another home-based travel agency network last March was met with some skepticism in the Canadian marketplace, but one year later, The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) is showing no signs of slowing down.

In just 12 months, the company has grown to employ a dozen staff, host 130 travel agents and continues to build its Agency Support Program as well. 

According to founder Flemming Friisdahl, the growth has happened organically as more travel professionals hear about its benefits. When first conceptualizing the idea, Friisdahl's primary goal was to provide agent support by taking care of administrative tasks and responsibilities, so in turn, agents can spend more time focusing on sales. His other priority was creating a commission arrangement that would be a "win-win-win" situation for the agent, supplier and his business. 

He said that so far, TTAND has been successful and these are winning factors for the brand.

It was March 19, 2014 that Friisdahl went live with the launch, supported by Penny Martin and Nancy Aube in executive roles. Since then, sales have reached $9 million, slightly short of their target for year one but then again, he said, establishing expectations for a brand new company with a brand new structure was basically taking a shot in the dark. 

A profit-sharing program is part of TTAND's value proposition, and while he realized it was not realitstic to expect profits this early in the game, Friisdahl said they are on-track to reward members with pay-outs in 2016.

Part of the success can be attributed to the business's adaptability, a positive consequence of its 'newness', which has meant the ability to change based on feedback offered by its expanding membership base. Friisdahl said at least six new programs have been introduced since last March to give agents what they want, such as a comprehensive referral program and evolving training options.

The founder said that they have also seen constant interest in joining from existing agents - whether coming from bricks & mortar agencies or competing home-based brands - in addition to inquiries from individuals looking to start a career in the travel industry.

In addition, the Agency Support Program is gaining traction, now with six agencies onboard. Services include telephony, insurance, registrations, membership fees, banking fees, errors and omission, merchant fees, marketing, and all the back office functions - which Friisdahl said could save business owners anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 annually.

"I think that the biggest misconception when it comes to joining is that the agency loses control," Friisdahl said. "It couldn't be further from the truth. Our only job is to take care of that agency."

There's no doubt this is only just the beginning for the burgeoning business, as the team sets sights on 200-240 agents by this time next year and the addition of six to 10 agencies a year.

While Friisdahl remained mum on what else the travel industry can expect from TTAND in the year to come, he did say a new and improved website is set to be introduced in the coming weeks.