Having a strong on-line presence and working with a top wholesaler
have both been major factors in travelnavigator.com 's success in selling New York,
according to Heather Lawley, travel consultant for the Garland,
"As one of the largest on-line travel agencies,
travelnavigator.com has an extensive database with lots of
packages. We are one of only five agencies that has a contract with
Yahoo's travel page, and of the five, we account for 40% of the
business," according to Lawley. The agency also works with
Amazon.com, among others.
In keeping with the agency's philosophy that specialization
works best for business, each agent is an expert in a different
destination, says Lawley, who handles the company's New York
"Most of my New York bookings are leisure packages," she says.
"We use Sutherland Travel [800-221-2442] exclusively for New York,
because we've found that they have very good rates, good packages,
good relationships with the hotels, and they give us a range of
hotels and other services that we can work with, so even if a
client has a special request, chances are we can tailor something
for them within the framework of the package. But if they still
can't find what they want, of course, we'll arrange a
Lawley says that the agency has two of Sutherland Travel's New
York packages on-line, with descriptions of the tours and the low-
and high-end prices. "Clients can call us directly or send us an
e-request, and in return they'll receive an auto-responder from
Travelnavigator.com is not a walk-in agency, says Lawley, but if
a client who's contacted the agency on line wants a face-to-face
meeting to clarify some issues, "of course, we'll arrange to have
them come in and talk with us."
"When I speak with clients," Lawley says, "I go over the
different packages with them, and try to determine what they want
and what category of hotel they're looking for, but if they're not
sure, I'll go through the whole range with them, from budget to
Lawley says she stays abreast of developments by going to
seminars and travel shows, such as the recent Travel Exchange Expo
staged in Dallas. "I also do a lot of research on my own on New
York, especially the hotels," she says.
"The advantage of being an on-line agency is that you can cut
down on a lot of expenses, like the costs of brochures, and at the
same time, you're able to attract clients from everywhere in the
Dorothy White, manager of CI Travel of Norfolk, Va., credits her
agency's membership in Woodside Travel Trust (301-718-9500) with
helping to obtain hotel reservations in New York during difficult
"I will often make our New York bookings through a tour
operator, but if they can't get the hotel the client wants, I go
direct, and more often than not I'll get the reservation, thanks to
our membership in Woodside," says White. She adds that CI Travel
was one of Woodside's founding agencies.
"It's a big help when you're booking a destination like New York
because you can tap into Woodside's blocked hotel space, and you
also get preferred rates," she says.
Most of her Big Apple-bound clients don't need any convincing to
go to New York, says White, "but occasionally a client will come in
who has three or four days to spare and can't decide what to
New York is often the perfect recommendation for such clients
from her area, says White, especially if, after speaking with them,
she determines that they are the kind of people who would enjoy
theater and all the other things that are typically a part of a
visit to New York.
New York theater is a popular draw with many of her clients,
says White, who occasionally puts together a theater package for
small groups from her area. "I normally will book a hotel directly
and use Continental Guest Services [800-299-8587] for the theater
tickets. Although they charge a fee, they usually will get me what
I want," says White.
White is on many suppliers' mailing and fax distribution lists,
which helps her stay up to date on developments on the New York
travel and hospitality scene. "I always make sure to check my
mailings because it's important to be aware if a hotel is going to
be renovated or has added new services," she says.