On 8th May, Pamela Brownlee moved her Fly Away Travel from a bricks and mortar agency to an online travel agency. She tells Irish Travel Trade News why.
Pamela told ITTN: “I had been pondering over this idea for about two years and I was feeling unhappy and quite unsettled at the way our expertise was being abused so to speak, in the sense that people were just continuously taking up both my and my sales team’s time, taking our information and that was the last you would see of them, while on the other hand we were unable to reply to our genuine clients in good time who were genuinely interested in long haul, a cruise, or that more luxury holiday because the counter was taking up so much of our time and yet wasn’t as productive as the client awaiting our response.
“I knew if I was take to the back office myself or recruit a sales person to work at the counter and deal with the telesales/social media enquiries etc, I would still need extra staff to handle the counter, which in my opinion, no matter what you did, people just took the information and left. This wasn’t a sustainable model long term. It was now time for action.
“Ten years on I had from scratch built two brands, Fly Away Travel and Cruises For You, as trusted and respected names in travel in the West. I said I know I have strong enough brands to work on telesales / social media / email / web enquiries and private consultations by appointment only. That is exactly what I did. I sourced a nice unit in a very popular enterprise centre here in Ballina, which has many other specialised businesses located in it and has a reception area.
“On 8th May we moved in and all I can say is that I and my team have never been happier and business is going from strength to strength by the day. I feel it is one of the best decisions I have ever made and am proud of myself for being courageous enough to trust my gut and excited about what the future holds for Fly Away Travel and Cruises For You.”
ITTN asked Pamela if she thinks that many other bricks and mortar agencies are likely to follow suit over the next few years. “Personally I feel that this is the future in the more rural towns of Ireland. I think Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Dublin, etc, will always have room / footfall for the current travel agent model but certainly for me, I can say I should of done this two or three years ago.
“People are loving the appointment system, everyone is so busy and nobody likes waiting in a queue. I am now prepared when my clients are due in – I have my research done and I have an idea what they are looking for. Now not everyone knows their business, it’s private and personal. We can also give more time and attention to our bookings. So far the girls and myself are very happy with the move.”