The Travel Agent Next Door Makes A Norwegian Escape For 3rd Conference

By Bruce Parkinson

Flemming Friisdahl opens The Travel Agent Next Door's 3rd annual conference.

TTAND agents Cathy Carter and Judi Oracheski attend the nautical-themed opening cocktail party aboard Norwegian Escape.

Norwegian Cruise Line's National Director of Sales, Canada, Dana Gain, welcomes TTAND members aboard Norwegian Escape.

Transat was a big winner in The Travel Agent Next Door's member-voted supplier awards, taking two awards for Most Supportive Tour Operator Partner and Best Overall Preferred Supplier.

The Travel Agent Next Door is at sea.

The fast-growing host agency headed by former Thomas Cook executive Flemming Friisdahl is holding its third annual conference on the water, aboard Norwegian Escape.

This year’s gathering reflects the company’s growth. Over 100 agents and 25 suppliers are on the cruise, representing a company that now hosts 275 primary and 130 associate agents for a total of 405.

The conference theme is “Watering Relationships,” and Friisdahl says TTAND’s relationship with suppliers has been a key element in its success to date.

“Our focus on suppliers is unique. 79% of all commission earned by our members is with preferred and approved suppliers,” Friisdahl told the audience at the conference’s opening session. “That’s an amazing number and a great accomplishment. And it’s why so many suppliers are on this ship today.”

TTAND now has a support staff of 21 serving its members, and Friisdahl says maintaining a high level of agent service is critical to future growth and success.

TTAND agent Janice Gross was an early sign-up, after working with three other host agency providers over the previous decade.

“The level of support I get here is unmatched. Head office staff are terrific and my fellow agents are enthusiastic, committed and always ready to help each other. There’s no question I have found the right place for me.”

Friisdahl says controlled growth and a focus on attracting strong, productive agents is the company’s mandate.

“We’re now over 400 members, but we’ve also said goodbye to 65 agents at the end of their first year. If the fit isn’t right, it isn’t good for anyone. How will I know when we’ve grown as much as we should? When I can no longer call each primary agent every six months. When I can no longer send each agent a note when they rock their sales. When I no longer have time to chat with you – that’s when we’ll stop adding agents.”    

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