gents interested in increasing or
developing their Web presence might consider the services of a
technology firm such as Marlton, N.J.-based TravelHub. Founded in
1995 by former Worldspan field technicians Gary Bilbao and Miguel
Castaneda, the company has been helping traditional agencies
prosper on the Net and compete with mega-agencies.
Instead of trying to sell travel itself, TravelHub provides
agents with an array of Web services. Its site receives 330,000
page views a month and is supported by HubClub, an e-mail
newsletter of member specials that is read by more than 13,000
consumers. Every contact on the site and newsletter is forwarded to
members, who now total more than 1,100.
company distributes the HubClub three times a week and soon will
divide it into subcategories so readers receive only the type of
specials of interest to them.
"We started out just planning to be an e-mail listing service
for travel agencies," said Bilbao, TravelHub president, "but as we
started to attract attention and began linking agents with
potential travelers, we started categorizing because the symmetry
A TravelHub listing costs $50 per month and entitles agencies to
list specials in the HubClub and have specials available for sale
when visitors to the site type in their travel preferences. Or,
agents can choose a free listing without the HubClub.
TravelHub also creates four-page agency sites that are designed
to increase business. They cost $400 for setup and maintenance and
then $40 per month, which includes up to 24 annual updates. These
sites can be linked with supplier inventory as private-label tours
that appear on agency Web pages. The links between agency and
supplier call up the supplier's products under the agency's
Other features of TravelHub are Tour Finder, in which thousands of
tours can be reviewed and offered for sale, and Discount Airfares
Network, a search engine for air fares offered by more than 500
"What I've noticed about other Web services is that they don't
do as good a job generating interest and getting people to come to
their sites," said TravelHub chairman Castaneda, who explained that
the company uses its specials to attract consumers to its
Prospective clients get linked to agents by searching by
specialty on the site or by responding to specials they have seen.
"It really does work. We're not big on taking money from people if
the system doesn't bring them business," he added.
TravelHub is offering trial memberships until the end of April.
For details, call (888) 772-7772, e-mail [email protected] or visit the Web at www.travelhub.com.
-- Michele San Filippo
Retailers rate TravelHub
The best way to find out if the Web services of Marlton,
N.J.-based tech firm TravelHub are for you is to hear what member
agents have to say about the company. Diane Panasci, owner of
on-line agency Crown Travel (www.the1way2travel.com) in Naugatuck, Conn., said this
about her affiliation with TravelHub: "They are there for agents,
they listen and they really want to help," she said. "Whenever I
have a question, I can call or e-mail the founders directly and get
an answer within 24 hours."
She explained her reason for joining: "TravelHub rescued me from
OneTravel.com, which changed its agent strategy and began competing
with us," she said.
Panasci added that members' rates of sale conversions are
usually high. Hers is 60% to 70% from e-mail inquiries and 80% to
90% from direct calls, she said.
According to Bill Baker, owner of Southwest Cruise & Travel,
Inc. in Rio Rancho, N.M., who joined the service last summer,
TravelHub has been a good marketing tool because of its targeted
Gordon LaGrow, a 30-year agency veteran and founder of
CruiseDirections.com in Quincy, Mass., focuses on selling upscale
cruises and receives about three or four leads a day from
"I've tried all the Web services out there, but I find that by
advertising my specific specials, I do better than when I promote
my areas of expertise," said LaGrow. He explained that he closes
about 60% of the leads.
"What I like most about TravelHub is that they step out of the
sale process and send the leads directly to me," said LaGrow.
Compassion at work
One of our employees lost a spouse. We have been very
supportive, but still she cannot manage a full day's work after
several months. How do we support her and keep the business a
According to the American Hospice Foundation, more than 8
million Americans must deal with the loss of a loved one each
must return to work, sometimes making it difficult to pick up where
they left off.
It's important to have a policy in place so there will be no
question as to how much time off should be given.
Here are some suggestions:Be respectful. Your form of helping might be perceived as
intrusive to your grieving employee. Be understanding if it takes
your employee a while to get back to his or her normal workload. If
this becomes a problem, consider hiring temporary help during this
grieving process. While the grieving will take much longer, the
person's performance should be 70% to 80% within four to six
weeks.Enlist the troops. Make sure your other employees act
sensitively during this time. If co-workers are willing, ask each
one to choose a night to make dinner for the grieving employee, so
he or she has one less thing to worry about after work.Offer social interaction. Loneliness on top of grief is a
damaging combination. Since most of one's day is spent at work,
your employee may have developed close relationships with
co-workers. Involve the grieving employee in social activities,
especially if you sense deep depression or if the grieving doesn't
seem to be lessening.Monitor the employee's behavior and let him or her know that
you're there to help. The more comfortable the employee feels at
work, the easier it will be to resume a full workload. Give full
support but with a boundary. If you feel the grief is lingering too
long, seek advice from your minister or rabbi for ways to help the
Former agency owner Dan McManus is president of the McManus
Group, publishers of business management advice. Contact him at [email protected].