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Progressive Travel Management

Client Connection recently had the chance to talk to Bill Blair, owner of Progressive Travel Management located in Buffalo Grove.

How did you get into the travel business?

Ten years ago, after selling my Swiss screw machine manufacturing company, I was looking to acquire another business. I bought a franchise travel agency and three years ago struck out on my own and started Progressive Travel Management (PTM).

PTM is a travel agency located in Buffalo Grove catering to the corporate and leisure markets. Bill describes PTM as a full-service agency that does everything from purchasing tickets to assisting with visa applications and exchanging currency.

During the course of any conversation about businesses, the topic inevitably turns to the Internet. Like many industries, there seem to be a million dot-coms all vying for your travel dollars. Does this discourage PTM? Not at all, according to Bill. In fact he and his agents recommend that their customers go "shopping" on line but come back to PTM to purchase and personally meet or speak with a travel counselor to take care of all the details.

When asked why this is advantageous, Bill's answer was that there are several reasons, most of which are related to customer service. First, all eight PTM counselors are trained to listen to the customer to get to know them, and find out what type of experience they want from a trip, and determine what level of service the customer needs. From here, the counselor can help plan a trip matching the customer's wishes and if necessary, handle the small details. And of course, there is always the extra comfort level derived from knowing that a person is accountable for taking care of arrangements.

What appeals to you about owning your own business? Control over my own destiny and creating a positive work environment for employees and customers.

How would you describe the atmosphere in your office? The atmosphere is great, very professional and pleasant. I think this stems largely from the fact that all counselors are fully empowered, and understand how important building relationships is to a travel agency.

When asked if this helps him work on, rather than in, his business Bill said, "definitely, even when I am out of the office it runs smoothly; my ego does not require that all decisions must be made by me. I am quite proud of the fact that I can be gone for extended periods of time with no glitches. I credit my staff and the systems that we have set up within the office."

Since Bill obviously has a handle on the processes and training within his business, we asked, "How does PTM attract new customers and keep existing ones?" Currently, we are revamping our database and expanding our marketing program. The new programs will allow us to customize mailings and emails to client profiles with building stronger relationships as the end goal.

What is PTM's ultimate goal? To be recognized as the best travel agency in Buffalo Grove. For assistance with your travel needs, give PTM a try. Bill Blair and his agents can be reached at (847) 459-6655.