Vision Enhances The Value Proposition

Retail travel sellers are on quite a roll these days with a couple of new pieces of research making it crystal clear that the value of what they do is increasingly being recognized by their customers, reports Bob Mowat in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.

Yet for Brian Robertson, chief operating officer of Vision Travel, the story that the research – released by MMGY, Virtuoso and ASTA – tells doesn’t come as too big a surprise.

In a wide-ranging interview with Canadian Travel Press, Robertson pointed out that today’s travel advisors are a different breed – one that’s “entrepreneurial by nature.”

“What I see today is that travel advisors take a vested interest in looking after their clients and in creating relationships. At the same time, [they have] this entrepreneurial and resilient nature – that’s what they’re [travel advisors] like today,” Robertson told CTP.

He explained that “back when I got in the business, [people] went [to an agent] to buy an airline ticket or maybe a trip home to visit friends and relatives or if [they] had enough money, [they] were taking an international vacation, but today I think the relationship between the [travel] advisor and the client has changed significantly.”

Robertson pointed out that in those days, “a travel agency was really doing business under the appointments of the various airlines and cruise lines or steamship lines, [so they] were really working on behalf of the vendor, whereas today, it has completely changed.”

In this respect, Vision’s COO said that while “you still work with vendors and you have preferred partners, the focus today is all about the client. Thirty years ago, you were really the agent of the vendor and people were coming to you because they had to get from point A to point B – that was pretty much the bulk of what you did.”

However, he said: “I think if you look at the industry today, travel advisors are a lot more professional in the way they approach their craft. It doesn’t mean that 30 years ago a travel agent wasn’t knowledgeable. It’s just that the focus has really changed and the industry has become much more professional. An advisor is just that – it’s more about the relationship with the client than it is about being the agent of the vendor.”

As an organization, Vision Travel is a pretty good example of how retail travel selling has changed. Robertson told CTP that after 16 years of operation, Vision has “changed in many ways” and he pointed to the amount of “proprietary and 3rd party technologies” that the company uses to “make our products and our services easier for our clients to access” as a major change.

The use of those technologies has helped make Vision’s team members more productive and efficient and also helped Vision run its business more smoothly both in North America and at the global level.
“Sixteen years ago we didn’t have what you’d want to call proprietary technologies. We were primarily using GDS systems and I suppose there was some travel vendor-type technologies that we were using, but that’s really advanced dramatically over the last 16 years,” he said.

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press by clicking here.