When Cheri Verrastro founded Travel Shoppe more than 20 years ago, her business plan was simple – make it personal and keep it real. Nothing, she knew, could beat the human touch.
She built the Fresno, Calif., business and leisure travel agency with an unwavering focus customer relationships based on exceptional service, trust and communication. “We really like to take care of clients,” Verrastro says. “They are the heart of our business.”
Over the years, Verrastro says, she came to believe that technology makes it easier to provide the human touch for which her agency is known. That’s why it was important for Travel Shoppe to partner with a technology company with a proven customer-first philosophy. Enter Amadeus.
“Travel Shoppe and Amadeus seem to fit into the same mold,” Verrastro says. “We like to do what’s right and take care of the customer. Amadeus has that same type of philosophy.” In September 2013, Travel Shoppe switched to Amadeus after using another GDS for 10 years. “With Amadeus, we feel like we’re getting good customer service we didn’t have before.”
Verrastro founded Travel Shoppe in 1992 with three agents. Today, the company has 26 agents to handle corporate, leisure, package and independent travel to Europe, South America, Hawaii, the Caribbean and New Zealand.
Travel Shoppe agents rely on Amadeus Selling Platform Connect to help them provide consistent, attentive service while booking a full journey, says agency manager Hilda Morrison. They have speedy access to integrated hotel content, real-time airplane seat availability and everything they need without having to run multiple searches.
The up-to-the-minute features in Amadeus Offers and Amadeus Ticket Changer give Travel Shoppe agents the ability to instantly offer clients a spectrum of options for airfare, hotels and car rental as well as a menu of travel itineraries. “I can’t even tell you how valuable that is,” Morrison says.
Power of positive intentions
Amadeus makes it possible for Travel Shoppe to follow through and maintain the good will that the agency develops through other avenues. Travel Shoppe engages customers with events such as “river cruise night” at a local wine shop and an annual travel show where customers can meet with vendors. The company also sponsors events like fun runs and golf tournaments to benefit Fresno community groups. In February, Travel Shoppe lent its support to Central California Asian Pacific Women’s “Dis/orient/ed Comedy Show,” to raise money for projects supporting the Asian Pacific community.
“We’re not afraid to try anything,” Morrison says. “All those things get our name out into the community so that when people think of travel, they think of Travel Shoppe.”
Travel Shoppe agents make it a point to meet clients face to face even if their initial contact was through email or social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which the agency uses to keep customers informed of deals, trends and time-sensitive news such as airline flight schedules.
Once they sit down with customers, Morrison says, the agents need to be able to quickly and thoroughly answer any questions clients have. Using Amadeus Selling Platform Connect gives agents the breadth of options on hotels, air fares and car rentals they need to present themselves as expert travel advisers.
“We take a lot of pride in our personalized service,” Morrison says. “That’s the kind of relationship we have with our customers.”
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