hen Michigan-based Passageways/Carlson
Wagonlit Travel acquired Alaska Bound, it gained a Holland America
top 100 volume agency, a leading single-office producer for Cruise
West, four specialists and a former owner's legacy.
Alaska Bound, a $2 million agency that sells only Alaska
vacations, was created in 1992 by Patty Crichton, a one-time owner
of a cruise-only agency and a long-time Holland America district
sales manager and on-board sales rep, now retired.
After doing cruise nights at local agencies for a few years, she
discovered that most of what clients wanted to explore in Alaska
was not accessible by large vessel and that no agency focused on
"There needed to be a place where people interested in small
vessels, visiting wilderness lodges or cruising the Inside Passage
could go [to arrange a trip], so I created Alaska Bound," she
"Having worked on board cruise ships, I knew the cabins and
vessels intimately and how to get the best deals." she said. "I was
very focused and chose which suppliers to do business with.
"My philosophy was, 'Why dilute your sales by selling products
you don't know?' "
Crichton surrounded herself with a knowledgeable staff and has
bestowed on them her sales strategies.
The agency's general manager, Rana Worden, said the staff's
knowledge is based on first-hand experiences and that, because of
Alaska's size, each agent focuses on a particular region, port of
call or lodge during fams, she said.
Alaska Bound has been recommended by Frommer's and Fodor's since
Passageways plans to advertise Alaska Bound in National
Geographic Explorer, The New Yorker and Conde Nast Traveler.
Alaska Bound also markets its expertise on the Web at www.alaskabound.com, a producer of 30% of its
-- Michele San Filippo
In class and out
Travel in Traverse City, Mich., one of the state's largest
agencies, created a new revenue stream for itself in the senior
leisure market as the sole travel provider for an educational
program it acquired in June.
The Global Classroom, billed as an enrichment course for older
adults, travels to senior centers and community halls to teach the
history and culture of different countries. At the end of each
course, students are encouraged to travel to the places they've
Passageways hopes to make the decision easier by putting
together direct-mail pieces targeting these potential clients and
creating both a print and online newsletter for the Global
President Tom Rockne estimated that 30% to 40% of the seniors
travel during the program.
Rockne and Passageways chairman Tom McIntyre said they
anticipate making $500,000 in sales from bookings this year and
doubling that amount annually as the program, which runs from fall
through spring, expands.
Passageways said it informs the seniors in advance of the Global
Classroom's travel agency ownership and that the courses are taught
by real teachers, not travel agents. Trips are optional.
The Global Classroom is directed by Karen Noack, a former social
studies teacher, who originated the 10- to 12-week course about 10
In September, classes will be offered in four Michigan cities.
Passageways will add another four classes in fall 2002.
Passageways will handle the planning and booking of all
This fall's trips include Charlevoix, Quebec; New Zealand and
Australia; Alaska, and Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga.
A mutual alliance
hat's the real secret to
attracting and retaining loyal clients? It's the same as the secret
to finding and keeping a loyal spouse: concern and trust.
You create client loyalty in precisely the same way you maintain
a good marriage -- by developing a mutual alliance in which both
parties benefit, where mutual concern is ever-present and where
trust is central.
Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure that your
agency's client-agent relationships endure:Be a good listener. Trust comes through knowledge. The more you
learn about your client, the easier it will be to satisfy his or
her travel desires.
In any relationship, we learn about others by listening -- not
by talking.Handle complaints efficiently. Nothing can ruin a good
relationship like a conflict.
If your client comes to you with a complaint, resolve it quickly
-- even if it means a minor sacrifice.
Otherwise, the client will see a conflict between your agenda
and his, the kind that erodes trust.
Studies show that clients whose complaints are promptly resolved
will usually return with their business despite their issue.Follow up on every sale. This is what cements the client-agent
relationship most effectively.
A note, a phone call to ask how the trip went, a welcome-home
card -- all these things can go a long way toward reminding your
clients that you really care about their travel experiences.
And a sincere, personal thank-you note telling your clients how
much you appreciate their business can encourage them to sing your
praises to others.Treat your most loyal clients with concern and care. They're
your most important asset and deserve special treatment.
If they've bought a big-ticket item, you might send them a small
gift that would be useful on their trip, such as a disposable
camera, a windbreaker jacket or a book on their destination.
Little, thoughtful, even unpredictable gifts help pave the path
Marc Mancini is a professor of travel at West Los Angeles