Back when we opened our doors in 1994, there were over 30,000 travel agencies (counted and certified by Airlines Reporting Corp.) Last year, there were just 14,052. Our parent company’s heritage has much to do with travel agents and we still have a specialty department that operates a travel agent help desk for a major airline. And a good number of our people are actually travel agents in a former life. So we have an appreciation for the vocational calling of travel agents.
To honor our people’s genuine passion for travel, we recently added a feature to our website “Trase Miller Travels”. We keep a database of places that we have collectively visited and last count is looks like we have been to over 50 countries. Trase Miller Travels is a means to showcase our travels and to celebrate some of the journeys we have embarked upon. It’s also a place for our people to lend their expert voice in really personal ways; memories of an excursion, a favorite hotel, or even a crazy mishap. Real People – Real Stories.
In late January, we posted a blog that mentioned our most recent class of new hires. 65 days later everyone in that class is still with us. But we thought it might be a good idea to share what happened 75-80 days ago. Our recruiting process is rigorous. We screen and test even before people are interviewed. Typically over 200 people will respond to an advertisement. And typically only 5-6 percent will ever be hired. We love people with travel backgrounds and we screen carefully. Why? Because we promise the brands that we take calls for that they will be represented by quality people providing quality service.
When applicants come to our building there is often a digital display loop in our lobby that features an “Agent Spotlight”. Here’s a clip from one of the recent spotlights of Stephanie, the Agent pictured above.
Stephanie A. “Is Here to Help You”. She joined Trase Miller in August 2008 – Bilingual, Stephanie has held three different positions since then. Originally from Bolivia, Stephanie moved here at the age of 12. She is brand-loyal to QuikTrip™ because “they are reliable, professional, fast and efficient”. Bonus Fun Fact: Stephanie traveled recently to her childhood cathedral in La Paz to get married. Congratulations!
Real People – Real Stories in Our Contact Center
Our lives are quite intertwined with online travel agencies. Frequently, we will take calls from a consumer who at the same time is looking at OTAs in their computer for real time price comparison. We also have personal relationships with executives at all the “OTAs” and we think of them as really smart and hard-working people. So we pay attention to their research in part to support our planning activities.
In a recent priceline.com survey, 86% of the respondents said they were going to take a vacation this year, and 68% of them said that a "staycation" wasn't going to fill the bill. The majority of respondents said they would vacation outside their home state. In our contact center our phones are double digit busier than last year because our client partners are aggressively marketing to their customers.
Expedia, Inc owned Hotels.com recently released survey results related to how travelers are vacationing this summer and what's on their minds as they prepare for their trips. Among those polled who are planning a summer vacation, nearly two-thirds (63%) will be staying at a hotel or other kind of rental property, like a condo or resort. Despite tough economic times, only 33% plan to stay with friends and family. And how about “The cost of getting away”? – 60% of those polled think it will be more expensive to travel this summer than last, while 18% feel it will be less expensive. 22% feel costs will be about the same.
Our phones are double digit busier this summer than last. And it matters less if people are considering Walley World or a private villa on Maui. People are feeling a need to invest in renewal and vacations and that is the best news a company like Trase Miller could get!