With all of the technology available today, it’s reason for pause to discover that retailers are finding some serious benefits in selling travel the “old school” way.
Consider Merit Travel – a company that over the course of its 30-year history has always been an early adopter of technology, yet last night (May 14) it welcomed a buzzing crowd of its travel partners and its customers to the grand opening of its brand new, retail storefront shop at 101-111 Peter Street in downtown Toronto. And it was all about high touch and personal service.
The 2,500 square foot flagship store – officially opened in late March, but hey, everyone loves a party –
features industrial-style high ceilings, modern and innovative design and décor and “breaks all the normal travel agency boundaries and barriers” in order to allow its consultants and clients to do things differently.
There are a variety of casual and cozy meeting pod areas, large travel expert work spaces, a sophisticated media and presentation cove including two large screen TV’s, a large staff eat in kitchen, and a stylish classroom layout training room.
As H.I.S.- Merit Travel Inc.’s CEO, Phil Sproul sees it, the company’s flagship store is all about creating “something different” because Merit is “all about experiential travel” and the new flagship “makes the experience more interactive.”
For a retailer that sells over 350,000 trips a year – with $2 billion in annual sales – this kind of personal touch approach is certainly refreshing; is one that’s working; and is clearly an approach that Merit’s clients like – a lot.
Speaking to the crowd attending the grand opening, Sproul reminded them of a couple of things about Merit.
As the Canadian arm of H.I.S. Co. Ltd., Merit Travel Group has a global presence with over 500 locations in cities around the world. Here in Canada, Merit offices located across the country, with Canadian brands that include Merit Travel, travelcuts, MeritBiz, Merit Loyalty and Exclusive Tours.
Kristina Boyce, vice-president, sales for Merit, observed that “we built this space for our clients,” explaining that “so much travel is booked online to day but we don’t believe that makes sense for what Merit sells.”
“Travel is personal,” Boyce said, and Merit wants the experience of buying travel “to be fun and consultative.”
Sproul clearly agrees: “Our vision was to design and build a space where our travel professionals can truly inspire their clients. Invoking the client’s passion and imagination by interacting with them in an environment that fosters relaxation, and comfort. It’s a warm and welcoming space as well for our preferred suppliers and industry partners to hold events, travel talks, training sessions; the options are boundless.”
Stay tuned, there’s bound to more to come from Merit Travel.
In the photo
Merit’s Phil Sproul and Kristina Boyce are all smiles as they welcome guests at the Grand Opening of Merit’s new flagship store in downtown Toronto.