Azumano Travel of Portland, Ore., is partnering with online agency TravelWizard.com in a joint venture, AzumanoTravelWizard.com, in which Azumano's agents book travel for TravelWizard customers.
Sho Dozono, Azumano Travel president, said that TravelWizard has a strong search engine optimization platform that generates high volumes of online leads.
Azumano agents are experienced in converting such leads into sales, Dozono said, thanks to their work with an online honeymoon operator and American Express cardholders.
"There is a population of travelers searching the Internet for great information, but they still want the comfort and security of booking with a knowledgeable agent backed by the American Express brand," Dozono said. "This new business model is a hybrid of new technology and traditional brick-and-mortar service."
TravelWizard of San Rafael, Calif., is what founder Robert McMillen calls a high-tech, high-touch agency.
"We use the Internet to get customers, like a big fishing net," he said. "We bring them in and deliver them to the agents in our back office. From then on, it's person-to-person, white-glove service."
AzumanoTravelWizard.com is part of the American Express Representative Network. Azumano has been part of the Rep Network since 2000. TravelWizard had previously been a Virtuoso member.
Azumano sold its corporate travel division to CI Travel of Norfolk, Va., last month. Dozono kept the leisure side of the business.