Travel Network has been having a banner year -- one that actually
started in September. Since that time, the Englewood Cliffs,
N.J.-based franchiser has been awarded two major honors.
Most recently, it was named the No. 1 franchise company in North
America by the magazine Income Opportunities, a ranking that will
be announced in the March/April 1999 issue of the publication for
With that rating, Travel Network beat out such "household names
as McDonald's, the Gap and Burger King," said Stephanie Abrams, the
company's executive vice president.
Among the criteria used to develop the ratings were the quality
and quantity of programs and services for the franchisee, the
relationship between franchiser and franchisee, the financial
stability of the franchiser, the longevity of the senior management
team and the track record of successful franchisees.
This was the first time Travel Network made it to first place,
though "we've been in the top 10 every year for the last five
years," said Abrams.
The company's other honor was having its Web site,
www.travelnetwork.com, ranked tenth among travel Web sites by Gomez
Advisors, which runs its own site (www.gomez.com) where it ranks
Gomez rates travel sites on such criteria as ease of use and
customer confidence and satisfaction.
Abrams is particularly pleased to be in the company of such
top-ranked Web sites as Microsoft Expedia, Travelocity and Yahoo!
Travel, since for most of these companies, being a Web site is
"what they do for a living," she noted.
For Travel Network, however, the site is "one more foot on a
centipede whose other 99 feet are tap dancing in different areas,"
as Abrams described the agency franchise business.
And while some agents are still railing against competition from
the Internet, Abrams sees it in her own way.
"It's no different from nuclear power or fire. It can warm you
or burn you up. Our goal is to keep our franchisees on the cutting
edge, so we use the Web as one more avenue for successful marketing
and sales development."
As executive vice president of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based
agency franchiser Travel Network, Stephanie Abrams has a tough job,
so she really needs a restorative hobby.
She has two: writing and doing needlework. Both are "relaxing
and fun and give me a chance to have another creative outlet," she
The travel industry also plays a part in her downtime -- most
actively in her needlework, where she'll create designs based on
brochure covers. Her newest project is a cover from the tour
operator CIT, an Art Deco drawing of revelers in costume for
Abrams likes the fact that needlepoint permits other activities.
While her fingers are flying, "I can have a conversation or watch a
film," she said. That's not the case with her other avocation,
writing, which totally absorbs her. In her current project, a
novel, she finds, "the characters have taken over and are writing
the story themselves."
Abrams is currently searching for a literary agent for this
novel, which focuses is on a group of people who all belong to the
same synagogue. The travel industry may play a part in her next
novel. She also plans a book on family travel.
"I was traveling with kids when it was a lot harder than it is
now," she said.
Competing on price
By Lucy Hirleman
How can small agencies compete in price with larger agencies?
asked a reader in a letter which also brought up the topic of
This week I'll address the price question; later, I'll attack
(figuratively only) shoppers. But if we all pray very hard, maybe
shoppers will disappear off the face of the planet and I can do a
column about something more enjoyable!
For better airline fares, check out domestic and international
consolidators. Another way to add value and lower prices is to talk
to tour companies about "bulk" discounted fares in an "air-plus"
package -- a method that works best for last-minute fares. The
"plus" could be something the client needs or a "throwaway" such as
a one-way airport transfer.
If you want lower prices on cruises and tours, it's vital to
join a consortium or co-op. Your annual investment will be returned
many times in higher commissions, and the sales assistance and
educational benefits are invaluable.
If you already belong, are you taking advantage of all that your
consortium has to offer, such as special deals and group space?
Have you thought of arranging your own cruise and tour groups to
Many cruise lines will allow you to hold group space without a
deposit. Tour companies usually require a small deposit based on
the number of air seats.
Do not think customers care only about price; most are looking
for service and value.
And remember to sell yourself, too. Tell clients about your
industry accreditations; mention recent seminars you or the staff
If we project a confident, professional image, coupled with a
focus on service, price shouldn't be an issue.
Lucy Hirleman, CTC, MCC, owns Berkshire Travel in
Newfoundland, N.J. Contact her at [email protected]; fax (973) 208-1204.
Why do Gabrielle Williams, president of International Travel
Consultants Inc. of Rockville, Md., who is in the center of the
photo at the right, and the agency's director, Gary Baker, right,
look so happy? It's because they are holding a replica of the
actual check they received for $16,933.33 from Heinz Niederhoff,
left, executive vice president of sales for Kemwel Holiday
That sum -- in addition to commissions of over $80,000 -- was
awarded to Williams' agency for topping the list of agents entering
the 1998 Kemwel Holiday Autos Miles incentive program, whose 1999
edition runs through Feb. 28.
In another Kemwel offering, every time an agent makes a booking,
the agent's name is entered in a drawing for a free one-year lease
on a BMW.
On-line job recruiting
"The well-written, targeted, longer on-line job ad achieves
something special: It tends to attract fewer total resumes and more
excellent resumes." In addition, on-line recruiting can be cheaper
than running ads in the local paper and attract a national talent
That's the wisdom from "The Employer's Guide to Recruiting on
the Internet," written by Ray Schreyer & John McCarter, experts
on this topic.
The book also includes case reports and success stories, with
cautions on how to avoid the pitfalls of this new method of
recruiting; tips on how to develop and maintain a database of job
candidates; information on the best Internet job and resume sites,
and hints on how to compose an effective on-line job ad. Other
topics covered include why a Web page seldom works for recruiting
and how to use resume databases most effectively.
Published by Impact Publications, the paperback volume is
$24.95. For more information, check out the company's Web site at
Net NewsWashington State Ferries. Check out schedules, fares and
crossing times for all the routes these ferries take. You'll also
find links to pages describing things your clients can do at
various destinations -- everything from biking to birding. www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferriesBC Ferries. This ferry system services up to 47 ports of call
on 25 routes throughout coastal British Columbia. The site includes
information on the summer Discovery Coast Passage route between
Port Hardy and Bella Coola as well as service between Prince Rupert
and Queen Charlotte islands, referred to as as the Canadian
Galapagos. Also on the site: fares, maps and a reservations
Compiled by Jennifer Dorsey. E-mail suggestions to [email protected]