Dugan’s Travels, a New Mexico-based host agency with about 700 home-based agents spread throughout the U.S. and Canada, expanded its member resources recently with an agreement with Itams, the Ohio-based developer of a customer relationship management and database tool called ClientEase.
Dugan’s is offering ClientEase free of charge to its members to maintain their client profiles, reservation histories, itineraries, invoices and to distribute marketing materials. The system is Internet-based and includes basic accounting and reporting features.
“ClientEase has its own relationship with suppliers and offers specials that our agents can opt in and send to their clients, based on interests and demographics,” said Angela Brown, Dugan’s assistant manager. “This is something that allows our agency to keep track of booking information and volume and see how we’re doing with a supplier per quarter, for example, and break down sales information.”
Dugan’s is a Vacation.com
member, and its home-based independent contractors have access to that network’s Engagement program, which includes exclusive specials and programs, such as a new air program. However, Dugan’s attracts agents new to the industry and part-time agents with small databases. ClientEase is more convenient for those agents, Brown said.
“We foresee ClientEase will be used mostly by our newer agents and/or part-time agents with smaller databases and that our more seasoned, experienced agents with larger databases will continue to use the Engagement program with Vacation.com.”
She added: “We want to ensure that we are filling the needs of all of our agents. No matter how large or small their volume of sales, they are equally important to us. The services are different, as Engagement offers deals exclusive to Vacation.com members, and ClientEase offers specials that are available to the general public.”
Dugan’s, which was founded in 1999, is composed of independent agents who operate under their own business names. Brown, who works part time as founder Jennifer Dugan’s assistant, operates her own home-based agency, Michigan-based Noble Travel. A former waitress, she started her agency business through Dugan’s, working at it on evenings and weekends and specializing in honeymoons and destination weddings.
As she learned more about the industry and completed several destination and industry courses, she took a leave of absence from her full-time job to see whether she could make a go of it as a full-time agent. After several months in which her agency business tripled, she quit her day job and to devote her time to Noble Travel. “I’m so busy,” she said. “It’s become more than a full-time business.”
Dugan’s Travels is geared to agents looking for a low-cost entry into the industry and agent training. The company charges a $130 start-up fee and $50 for errors and omission insurance. Monthly fees are $20, which is waived when members reach $3,000 in monthly sales.
“Our goal is to train new agents,” Brown said. “It’s pretty hard to find a host agency that will invest in you. We bring in young, less experienced people with fresh minds and lots of ideas. We train them and watch them grow.”
For more, see www.travelathome.com