Staying afloat in the flood of bad news

The economy may be in crisis, but Tharwat Abouraya, CTIE, President of Travel Business CPR, believes this is the time to rethink and rebuild the travel agency business. He is not alone. The President of the Travel Industry Association, Roger Dow, says the questions travel executives need to be asking now are “How do we win? How do we prosper? How do we flourish?”

Mass marketing is out and segmentation is in. Go back to the basics – increase revenue and control expenses. Travel Business CPR recommends specific strategies:

1) Increase revenue:
• Protect your blood supply – continue to invest in your marketing initiatives and advertising, but make sure your message includes a call to action and track every inquiry;
• Shift from transaction to relationship sales by knowing your customers and personalizing your message;
• Highlight your travel specialists on your website
• Establish programs for customers to refer customers
• Negotiate dealership agreements and receive net rates with one cruise line and one tour operator, making it easier to specialize in their products.

2) Control Expenses:
• Consolidate unprofitable locations, get rid of unproductive real estate
• Manage out unproductive travel consultants
• Recruit commission sales agents including at-home agents
• Motivate your top producers and assure them of a greater future and pay them well

“Always make sure your revenue is higher than your expenses by 2%,” advises Abouraya. “If revenue is flat with expenses, then lower your expenses by 2%.”

Abouraya is leaving his post as Vice President of Travel of AAA Western and Central New York (WCNY) to focus on Travel Business CPR. AAA WCNY CEO Tom Chestnut says Abouraya “totally revamped the organization in a methodical fashion and improved our revenue significantly. He knows the players and he knows the game.” Abouraya now plans to breathe new life into travel agencies and specialty segments of the global travel arena by working with agencies and travel divisions seeking to grow or retool.

Abouraya is also interested in building public-private partnerships with an emphasis on global issues that intersect with the travel industry. “I am looking forward to applying the extensive experience I gained at AAA and American Express Travel Related Services to new ventures in the international travel industry. I have a great passion for entrepreneurial pursuits. I’ve been thinking about this for some time. I’ve long been interested in the U.S. and international relations. Tourism has always provided opportunities for people to mingle with other cultures; it is also represents a huge potential for many developing economies if it is managed with sensitivity to local needs and interests. I have wanted to move into the public-private arena in these fields and now is the time to move.”

Abouraya is open to inquiries and proposals from nonprofit organizations or companies interested in initiating, building or refining travel operations or projects. For more information, contact Travel Business CPR at +1-202-595-4867 or or visit