Bryna Blum – AKA “The Printress” – is President of The WCBS Group (“WCBS”). With technology as the impetus, Bryna and her IT Manager, Marty Gronewald, have moved from providing invoice / itinerary forms to a local clientele in 1981, to become a full-service company with 4 websites under the WCBS umbrella, suppliers across the USA and Canada, and clients in all 50 states, Canada, the Pacific Rim and the Caribbean. WCBS now provides everything from logo design, corporate packages, online offset, digital & large format printing to promotional products. WCBS has evolved over the years to be who their clients need them to be.
Travel Research Online: Why did you first begin working in the Printing and Marketing service industry?
Bryna Blum: It was a fluke. My late husband (and a partner) was selling hardware and software and ancillary products, when he was asked if he could do forms for SABRE, an airline reservation system. He said, “Yes!”, even though he didn’t know what SABRE was at the time, and the rest, as they say, is “history.” I went in to work “for two weeks” because he was ill and have been working ever since.
TRO: Is there room in your work for your passions to really come out? If so, where does it generally happen?
BB: What a great question! In one of my lifetimes I must have been an English teacher. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than proofreading and editing clients’ presentations and brochures. I get great gratification to see the beautiful things we create for our clients as well as my “editorial” contributions in print.
TRO: Did WCBS’ close working relationship with travel professionals begin naturally, or did you intentionally seek out that user base?
BB: By the end of 1981 we had five travel agencies as clients. After purchasing their forms they asked if they could get other products from us, such as ribbons for their printers, CRT turntables and other printed matter. Never one to say no, we figured it out and before long, we became known as “The Travel Agents’ General Store.” We were also invited to sell product through CRS systems, and the business grew itself into something beyond what we ever could have imagined.
TRO: What service or aspect of WCBS do you want more Travel Agents to be aware of?
BB: Certainly that we are one-stop shopping. Once we have a logo in the system and familiarize ourselves with the needs of a client, there really is no reason to go elsewhere. See wcbs4printing.com for the travel industry and wcbsPrintServices.com for our blog and an overview of the breadth and depth of all that we can provide.
TRO: Let’s imagine a travel professional is worried about costs and trying to cut every excess they can. Why should they consider a service like WCBS essential to their practice?
BB: We have been printing for the travel industry for so long that we know all about agency budget restraints. We look for ways to save our clients money. Our prices are consistently among the lowest in the industry. It’s basic to our personal and business integrity that we can be trusted to provide value.
TRO: What kind of experience can a prospective travel professional expect in working with you?
BB: The testimonials on our website speak best as to who we are. We have clients with us since the beginning; and, two companies -E.H.Bickett & Co. and Willow Press, both suppliers to the travel agency community, came to us to acquire them-which we did- because of our reputation.
TRO: What is the biggest problem you see in the travel industry with the ways clients handle (or don’t) their marketing, image and aesthetics?
BB: Many in the travel agency community “get” that their image matters; and despite having limited resources at times, make the effort with color and design to stand out. Others don’t. Web pages are launched and forgotten-with deals years old still featured. Logos are tired. (A plane or a ship is not a logo!) Some still think black is the way to go because it’s FREE. A fear factor still exists about spending money.
Full, bright color is now virtually the same price as black and white or just one spot color; and it “feels good.” For years I have stressed that in both the best of times and worst of times a business has to look successful. Image is everything! Clients make decisions every day about a business’ capabilities, professionalism and friendliness based on what they see: their web sites, emails and physical correspondence, invoices and, of course, extra, useful items like document packaging or luggage tags. How does your business ‘look’ compared to your competition? Now, with everyone’s competitors a click away, a unique, memorable logo, a clean, friendly website and a consistent, professional image are essential to stay competitive. It’s a fact that one never gets a second chance to make a first impression!
TRO: Is there anything exciting on the horizon for WCBS?
BB: New products, new services and new ways to help our clients. There’s always something exciting on our horizon-that’s why we are here bright and early every day.