Have you ever been to or seen a travel agency office that was so cluttered that it felt overwhelming?
Posters hang on every wall space, racks of flyers fill every nook and cranny a maze of tarpaulin banners makes it difficult to move—everything is designed to sell you the ultimate, mega-sale discount package vacation of your dreams, whether you want it or not.
AZPIRED Travel offers a completely different experience.
Housed in a 750-square meter office at the Lower Penthouse of the Park Centrale building in Cebu IT Park, the agency pampers clients with an airplane-themed customer lounge. You can admire the décor of airplane windows, turbines and wings, along with plush airplane seats and food-trolley inspired tables. There are no posters, flyers or banners in sight. Their office is so cozy, you probably won’t want to leave.
“To ensure our clients’ comfortable and convenient booking experience, we designed our office to look and feel like a business lounge. We want to prioritize personal communication between our agents and clients,” says Almira Absin, Chief Operating Officer of AZPIRED Inc.
“Together with architect Leo Duazo, Scott (referring to her husband Scott Johnson who runs the company with her) and I conceptualized and built a travel agency office with a sophisticated, modern industrial look and feel. Nothing feels more satisfying than seeing our clients and employees leaving the office with stories to tell and souvenir pictures to go with them.”
The business has grown so much in the past ten years. The outsourcing company now employs 1,500 people, and operates eight production floors spread out in four buildings, three of which are in Cebu and one in Cagayan de Oro. AZPIRED Travel is the newest venture in the AZPIRED Group of Companies, and Almira has been focusing much time and effort on its growth.
“As a frequent domestic and international traveler, I bring a lot of knowledge to the table. I went through all the trainings and trade shows to become a Certified Reservations Agent (RESA), just like the rest of my staff. We also went through months of training in running an agency and how to use the Global Distribution System (GDS),” Almira states.
A GDS is a network that enables automated transactions between travel agencies and the travel service providers they work with, like hotels, airlines, cruise ships, railways and car rental companies.
AZPIRED Travel was born from an opportunity to manage AZPIRED Inc.’s frequent business and personal travel requirements in-house.
Scott and Almira bring employees to Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States for quarterly trainings, conferences, and trade shows. It was very tedious for Almira to personally arrange everybody’s airfare, hotel, and visa arrangements, so she decided to open her own travel agency. Now, the agency provides for her and other client’s travel needs.
In addition to having the AZPIRED Group of Companies and its employees as a major client, AZPIRED Travel also works with other corporate accounts, various travel agency affiliates, and a large number of individual travelers. The agency specializes in organizing leisure travel, business trips, and location-specific journeys in the Philippines and around the world.
Their services include booking hotels, resorts, flights, cruises, and rental cars. They seek to provide an all-in-one travel service experience.
“AZPIRED Travel will help you attain your unforgettable travel experience. We ensure a simplified process for our customers, in addition to providing travel documents, visa assistance, consultation services, and travel packages,” says Almira. “Our experience in organizing business trips for AZPIRED’s Group of Companies makes corporate travelers our main target. However, we cater to a full range of clients, from individual travelers to our affiliate travel agencies and budget to luxury travelers.”
Mylene Balmores, one of AZPIRED Travel’s customers, shared her positive experience from booking with the travel agency.
“Going to Hong Kong for our honeymoon was the best gift. It was our first international trip as a couple, and AZPIRED Travel took care of everything for us—our airfare, accommodation, and complete travel itinerary. They made our entire planning and travel experience hassle-free and enjoyable,” she says. “We ate Hong Kong’s famous peking duck, egg puffs, and hopia, and visited tourist spots like Victoria Peak, Harbor View, and Mong Kok Market. We also rode the Ngong Ping 360 cable car and Peak Tram and experienced Hong Kong’s WinterFest attractions, including the iconic Christmas Tree Lighting at Statue Square and the unforgettable Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show!”
Booking a trip with AZPIRED Travel is easy. First, the travel agent and client discuss pertinent details about the trip: destinations, number of persons, modes of travel, accommodation, and travel budget, among other things. This will be the basis for a sample itinerary the agency will present to the client for approval. Discussions continue until the itinerary is finalized and the client pays for the trip.
“We go beyond the norm by providing our clients with a departure orientation, information on the destination that will come in handy, especially for first-time domestic and international travelers,” Almira says. “Our clients’ epic travel experience starts with making hassle-free travel arrangements, and ends with commendable adventures for keeps.”
AZPIRED Travel has already achieved so much in only a short amount of time in the industry. Within a few months of opening, they were accepted as ticketing partners of major airlines including Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, and Cathay Pacific. Learning how to use the GDS software by perfecting its codes and system structure was another milestone for the agency.
“We overcame the challenges with constant practice and the willingness to learn every day. The more bookings we received, the more confident we grew in the services we offer. We also advertised aggressively through social media, email marketing, and word of mouth,” Almira states.
This year, AZPIRED Travel aims to become a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The agency has already applied for membership and received an IATA number.
According to the IATA website, “some 60,000 IATA travel agents worldwide currently benefit from IATA accreditation, selling $220 billion worth of airline tickets on behalf of some 265 IATA airline members.” Membership will give the agency professional recognition, access to a global market of airline partners, and a convenient means of working with them.
AZPIRED Travel recently started giving travel incentives to its deserving employees. Now they can have the same personal service and buying experience that their clients do. This year, the agency will also be participating in travel expos, tourism events, concerts, festivals, and the like, to spread the word about their products and services.
Despite the popularity of online travel agents and direct booking websites today, Almira is confident in the timeless relevance of person-to-person travel agencies like AZPIRED Travel.
“As a traveler, I’d feel more confident going to an agency office and talking to a professional Reservation Agent (RESA) about my travel plans to make sure the trip is well taken care of. Personally, I want to ensure that my thoughts on the perfect travel experience are heard by the RESA who will help me make it happen,” says Almira.