How a Travel Agency is Staying Relevant in the Age of Online Booking

Hint: it has to do with their workplace.

Image courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

They said that video killed the radio star, but did it stop there? The advent of the internet has brought the demise of many an industry from print journalism to video rental stores. In the minds of many, travel agencies, too, have gone the way of the dinosaur.

But this is not so for Liberty Travel, a company that has not only resisted the fall of face-to-face retail interaction, but has actually thrived in the changing environment.

So what’s their secret?

Not having any.

Liberty Travel took transparency to a whole new level at their recently completed travel center and corporate offices. The spaces are a hybrid of retail and workplace, allowing consumers to get a behind-the-scenes look at the company and ensuring that employees always keep customers in mind.

Image courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

Architecture and design firm CallisonRTKL helped Liberty Travel achieve this innovative hybrid workplace and retail store front. The design begins on the street, beckoning passersby to enter the store and browse trips of a lifetime. But it doesn’t stop there.

Customers are also invited to a take a sneak peek into the hard work that goes into each and every one of Liberty Travel’s trip packages. The store front keeps the brand alive and noticeable, while the open back of house shows the client that there are another 100 people behind this wall working just for them, making their dreams happen.

Image courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

In the retail space, CallisonRTKL created a library of destinations similar to a travel bookstore. Each geographic area is highlighted for easy way-finding and to create an exciting browsing experience that is unique to each client’s interests.

“The hybrid space brings in an element of curiosity,” said Benjamin Bayoneto, an associate vice president at CallisonRTK. “It’s like when you’re in a museum and you pass a door, and your eyes gravitate toward what’s behind the door. At Liberty Travel, you can actually find out.”

Image courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

The back-of-house reveals agents working round the clock, creating an experience that is completely consumer-focused.

But it’s not just beneficial for the clients.

“This arrangement allows for more efficient training and cross-collaboration between the client-facing employees and the administrative and management staff,” said Tom Pulk, a senior associate vice president at CallisonRTKL. “With the two groups under one roof, agents can easily communicate regarding consumer trends and preferences, creating a more efficient, profitable process.”

Image courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

Employees have a clear view of the entire company, revealing potential career development opportunities. Because they have streamlined their real estate portfolio, Liberty Travel also has the opportunity to spend more on amenities, like large break rooms with televisions and games, for their employees. In this space, employees from all levels of the company can interact professionally and socially to form stronger relationships, ultimately resulting in higher job satisfaction and less employee turnover.

The workplace is no longer a private office with a secretary. It is an integral part of the brand, and, in the case of Liberty Travel, the hybrid retail-workplace easily reflects the company’s culture, values, and aspirations — unifying the company vision, brand, and team under one roof.  It was with this in mind that CallisonRTKL helped Liberty Travel make an engaging retail experience that would grab customers’ attention, while also serving as a functional office with world-class employee amenities.

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  • It’s incredible how Liberty Travel is redefining the way travel agencies operate. Given how still competition is, it’s essential to keep evolving. The absence of innovation can threaten the very survival of a business. When tablets arrived, there were speculations of these gadgets marking the end of the road for laptops. But laptop companies innovated and kept customers hooked on. Similarly, travel agencies can survive along with online booking facilities, mainly because people love transparency and good services.

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