by Christopher A. Flores
Manager, ARC Participation Programs
Over the years ARC has been dedicated to providing products, services, and programs that are valuable in the day-to-day lives of all kinds of travel professionals. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time meeting our travel professional peers at industry conferences and events, and we continue to value our customers by investing in new initiatives to help grow their businesses. We still have our work cut out for us, as there are plenty of travel professionals who do not know who ARC is, what we do, what we provide, and how we can help. Not many travel agency networks in the United States, can say they have more than 15,000 members.
For years ARC has been accrediting travel agencies that provide air ticketing services through a GDS, continuously through our Ticket Reporting Agency (TRA) program. And in 2007 ARC introduced the Verified Travel Consultant (VTC) program for travel agencies that book air for their clients through industry intermediaries. While air may not be a primary focal point of VTCs, their heavy concentration on leisure sales (e.g. cruise and tour) almost always leads to an air component.
Our customers have been vocal about the value ARC brings to their respective agencies. What better way to learn how ARC products, services, and programs help travel professionals than to hear it from a current customer and your peers? In 2012 we reached out to several agencies and interviewed them to gain their perspective on ARC. Shelley Morse, CTA, is the owner and president of Horizon Vacations in Texas. Jo Dee Frasco is the founder and president of Journeys by Jo in Maryland. Both are VTCs and members of Helix*, and both use ARC MarketPlace and Agent’s Choice. While their participation levels with ARC appear to be similar, their agencies are anything but.
Shelley has been a travel consultant for 17 years. Her home based agency and staff specialize in family-friendly vacations and cruises worldwide, destination weddings and honeymoons, and corporate travel. One of Shelley’s challenges in the industry prior to joining ARC was finding an affiliation with the tools to support her business. Today, her agency continues to grow revenue through the use of Agent’s Choice for service fees; ARC MarketPlace for commissionable excursions (oftentimes forgotten in transactions); and Helix for preferred suppliers and enhanced commissions. Her VTC participation has allowed her to maintain her agency’s independence and direct relationships with her suppliers, and her choice to capitalize on the program’s opportunities has had a direct impact on her bottom line.
Jo Dee would be considered one of the newcomers to the industry. With an extensive background in personal service Jo Dee opted for a career change in 2010. She started her home based agency with a focus on tailoring to her mass-market demographic, as well as a known and growing base of high-end clientele. Much like Shelley, Jo Dee was challenged in finding a reputable affiliation that would allow her to grow at her own pace while increasing her skills and income. After reading Joanie and Tom Ogg’s book “How to Start a Home Based Travel Agency,” she was convinced that ARC’s VTC program was the right choice for her. She has successfully built her own brand away from her host agency. And as a Helix member she books preferred suppliers daily and has a greater focus on supplementary products like show tickets and excursions through ARC MarketPlace, which also helps her earn commissions through an affiliation program. Jo Dee has found profitability through ARC’s practical solutions, allowing her to maximize her commissions and keep 100% of her earnings.
Both Shelley and Jo Dee have made ARC theirs. They are two distinct agencies with different models. However, their goal remains the same: to provide exceptional customer service for their clients and to be profitable as a result. As ARC participants they have been provided the support by way of products, services, and programs, which have assisted them in achieving their goals. Sign up for my webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. (Eastern). You’ll learn more about ARC’s participation programs and get tips on how to make ARC yours! Register here. Shelley and Jo Dee have researched and aligned their agency’s goals and objectives with what their affiliation is offering. I urge you to do the same. No one can tell you that their way is the way you need to successful in managing your business. It’s your business. No one else’s.
Just ask Shelley and Jo Dee!
Jo Dee Frasco
*Want to learn more about Helix? Join us April 7-8 in Anaheim, Calif. for the first Helix Symposium of 2013! You’ll learn about the program, hear from industry experts, and network with some of the best agents in the business. More to come! Contact email@example.com for details.