Interview with Betsy Geiser, Vice President at UNIGLOBE Travel Center
Betsy’s travel career began in 1999 when she joined UNIGLOBE Travel USA as Franchise Sales Coordinator and Contract Administrator. Since then, she has also worked in Industry Relations and Home-Based Agency Sales. In 2009, Betsy became Vice President of UNIGLOBE Travel Center, the home-based agency division of UNIGLOBE Travel USA. She oversees all aspects of the hosting program and new agent recruitment. Betsy is the Vice President of the Professional Association of Travel hosts (PATH) and the President of her local ASTA Chapter.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What ultimately led you to pursue a career in the travel industry?
Betsy Geiser (BG): I managed a large dental office for 18 years and I needed new challenges. Getting into travel was just dumb luck. My ex-husband worked for a travel agency that was starting a home-based franchise program. I started helping out on my days off doing follow up sales calls and finally asked for a job. I got hired right after Uniglobe acquired the company in 1999.
TRO: You’ve had a long career with Uniglobe. How have you seen the company change over the years?
BG: When I started we (Uniglobe Travel USA) only offered franchises, both Brick and Mortar and Home-based. In 2001, we started offering home-based agents a non-franchise program and Uniglobe Travel Center, and thus, the host agency division was born. Over the years, we grew the hosted program to include all the bells and whistles that independent contractors need to stay competitive. Fortunately, what I did not have to see was a constant change in staff. Most of the staff at UTC has been with us for 7 years or more.
TRO: How have your previous positions prepared you for your current role as VP of UNIGLOBE Travel Center?
BG: I have worked in all facets of the company from Franchise Sales Support to Marketing to Contract Administration on the Franchise side, then Sales and Marketing for Uniglobe Travel Center. I understand the internal workings of the company- that is the best part about starting at the bottom and working up. And, because of my experience in working with the agents while I was doing sales for UTC, I was able to revise our programs so they are relevant to the independent contractor in every phase of their career.
TRO: The travel industry is constantly changing. How has UNIGLOBE adjusted in order to keep up with the times?
BG: We keep a pulse on the industry to ensure we stay relevant. We are always looking at new programs we can offer our agents. A few years ago, we started seeing a lot of interest from people wanting to get into the industry, so, we developed one of the first training and coaching for those ‘newbies’. We have continued our Mentor U program and have seen a number of successful new agents from it. We started seeing more fraud, so we put programs in place to help protect our agents. We saw the need for hands on business development assistance, so we hired someone to help our agents grow their business. Those are just a few examples.
TRO: Why should a travel agent be interested in the services that UNIGLOBE Travel Center provides? What types of benefits are there?
BG: We are not successful unless our agents are successful. Our motto is that ‘it is all about them’. We offer all the tools and technology an agent needs but so do all host agencies. Where we differ is the personalized support. We are not so large that we don’t know our agents, but, we are large enough to get supplier support and top-tier commissions. We listen to our agents and are able to make changes based on their suggestions. With Uniglobe Travel Center, it is about the relationship: the relationship between staff and agents and between the agents and suppliers. We also offer programs for experienced GDS agents, experienced Non-GDS agents, agents with less than 2 years experience, as well as agents new to the industry. UTC agents never worry about getting paid, getting assistance or getting heard.
TRO: What type of an experience is guaranteed through using your services?
BG: From the first contact with an agent, we qualify and set expectations. We are honest about what we can and can’t do and what business models we can support. So, agents that join UTC are never disappointed.
TRO: What’s next for UNIGLOBE Travel Center?
BG: Right now, we are planning for our annual conference, which will be held in April in Newport Beach, CA. We have a number of projects we are working on, but I can’t announce them quite yet or I’d spoil the surprise!
To learn more about Betsy Geiser and UNIGLOBE, visit their website at http://www.uniglobetravelusa.com/193.