What sets Adventure Travel apart from its competition is an exquisite sensitivity to customer needs, say owners Alan and Roger Hale. To stay attuned to its clients, the Birmingham, Ala., agency monitors its customer service in various ways:
Adventure Travel's associates consult with travel arrangers, managers, and travelers to chart client needs for the upcoming year; to review purchasing trends, reporting techniques, and data collected; to discuss updates to a traveler's profile; and to help design on-site partnership seminars that make travel simpler and easier.
The agency issues postage-paid, self-addressed quick-response surveys with every airline ticket (on alternate months) to garner invaluable input from 7,500 travelers. Adventure Travel also contacts 200 randomly selected clients to discuss responses to customer-satisfaction questionnaires. Weaknesses and suggestions for improvement are addressed in semiannual companywide meetings and quarterly manager meetings.
An outside consultant audits the agency's systems throughout the year. A mystery caller places a call to each employee and rates his or her knowledge, level of courtesy, desire to please, and customer-service spirit. The company responds to complaints within 24 hours, initially with the traveler, then with the agent. After attempting to solve the problem, policies are changed to prevent a recurrence.
Does it fly? You bet! Adventure Travel has more than doubled its staff in seven years, operating 11 offices in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The company currently generates approximately $75 million in revenues annually, placing it among the top 100 travel agencies in the country.