Travel is her business
Sunrise Travel is owned and managed by Holley Henderson, and as the owner of that business for 31 years, Henderson has made customer service her priority. The mission of Sunrise Travel is to provide great travel opportunities to their clients at the best value for their dollar.
Henderson shared her insights about how the travel business relates to the general economy in this Q and A interview with the Idaho State Journal.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
A: I am a native of Pocatello, and the proud mother of four beautiful children. I graduated from Highland High School and went on to Idaho State University.
Q: Presumably, you love to travel. But do you have other interests and hobbies you might want to tell us about?
A: Of course I do love to travel. I love to play golf, snow ski, water ski, gardening, and just hanging out with my kids and dogs.
Q: How long have you been in the travel business, and what got you started in that area of business?
A: I have been in the travel business for 35 years. My sister used to work for Sunrise Travel and I thought it was great how she got to travel the world. So I applied for a job. I learned all I could about the business and soon became Manager and then purchased the agency in 1980.
Q: Please tell us about Sunrise Travel, and what the agency offers its clients.
A: Sunrise Travel has the most combined experience of any agency in the area. I have been in the business for 35 years. I am a Hawaii Specialist, with a specialization in Mexico Destinations and my own dive certification.
Jody Jackman has 28 years experience. Shirley Allen has 19 years experience. Ellen Loomis has 14 years experience. Dawn Sparrow-Clark has 10 years experience. A Sunrise Travel agent has been almost every where you can imagine. We have been there and done that. We pride ourselves in our level of service. We give our clients our cell phone numbers so that we can be reached when they need us.
Q: I know you have a Master Cruise Counsellor in your office, Shirley Allen, who has earned that designation by the Cruise Lines International Association by completing extensive training. What other kinds of specialized expertise do agents in your office offer the public?
A: Shirley is one of only two in Idaho that have that certification. She also is an Alaska Specialist. Holley has earned a Puerto Rico Specialist certification as well as a Hawaii and Mexico certificates. Ellen Loomis is a Disney College of Knowledge graduate. She specializes in all things Disney. Jody Jackman has an array of experience in Luxury Travel. Dawn Sparrow Clark holds a certification as a Hawaii Specialist and is a Specialist in travel to Ireland.
A travel agent is trained on the job. Nothing makes up for experience in the travel industry.
Q: How has the advent of the Internet affected the travel industry?
A: The Internet did affect the travel industry when it first came out. They did a great job of making people believe that the Internet was the cheapest and best option. It is not. Usually we at Sunrise Travel beat the Internet. We have found that people are learning that an agent is definitely the best way to go. Not only are we usually less expensive, but we are there to help when they encounter travel problems.
Q: It seems like a lot of people would rather surf the travel sites sitting in front of their computer at midnight in their pajamas, than walk in to a travel agency. But what advantages does a travel agent offer the average traveler that would make it more beneficial to come into your office to book their next flight or cruise?
A: People that want to surf the Internet will still surf the internet. But what is their time worth? I have had people come in to check on some travel, and they have spent countless hours in the internet trying to piece together a vacation and then found that we could do it quickly and for less money. We are all about value, and what you get for your dollar.
For instance a lady came in today that had been researching a cruise on-line. She found that we could book the cruise for less. She also saved on the air because I suggested that she fly into Ft. Lauderdale instead of Miami. People are realizing that a travel agent has a wealth of travel knowledge.
Using a travel agent is the best thing that you can do. A travel agent is always there to help. If you get stranded in an airport, go ahead and try to call an Internet site. They will not help you. You can call a travel agent and we always can help you out. There have been many times that we have been able to get a stranded traveler out of the airport when others are still stranded.
Q: It seems like the travel industry has taken a double whammy over the last decade. First there was 9/11, and then there was the recent recession. How did Sunrise Travel fare through all of that?
A: After 9/11 it was really tough. Several travel agencies closed. We at Sunrise Travel had a good following, and several clients who already knew that we were worth our weight in gold. We did ok and today the Internet is not much competition. We can usually beat the price on the Internet.
Q: Summer is approaching, and with that the travel season. Have you seen an increase in travel that would seem to indicate that the economy is getting better? Or to put it another way, what can we learn about the general state of our local economy, by looking at our local travel trends?
A: We have noticed that travel is up. I think that people have just decided that they have waited long enough, and it is time to travel again. Our new location at 2731 Pole Line Road is also helping. We have so much more walk in business than we used to have on Yellowstone. Come and see our new location.
Q: How does the rate of travel (meaning numbers of people traveling) and the types of travel, in our local area compare to national travel statistics? Given the popularity of fishing and hunting, do southeast Idahoans tend to travel less or more than people in other states or urban areas, or about the same?
A: I think that people from this area travel as much as people in other places around the country. We do have great close places to camp and relax, but a real vacation to a distant destination is still fun no matter where you live.
Q: What are the most popular destinations or modes of travel, or types of vacations at present? What’s the hot trend in travel these days?
A: We sell a lot of cruises. We also sell a lot of Mexico, Hawaii, Europe, Disney and the Caribbean. I would say that those are the hot destinations from around here right now.
Q: Lots of people think that the more expensive a booking is, the bigger the cut for the booking travel agent. But that isn’t true, is it?
A: No, not necessarily. Tour companies and cruise lines do still pay a commission to travel agents, but it is not based on the total price for the package. For instance cruise lines do not pay a travel agent commission on port charges and taxes. Airlines do not pay travel agents commission, so travel agents have had to charge a ticketing fee. But people should know that “the Internet” also charges booking fees.
Q: What other misconceptions are there about travel agencies that would be good to clear up?
A: Local travel agents are your neighbors. We want to keep your business and will do our best to make your vacation a memorable one. We do our best to get you the best value for your dollar. Travel agencies are not a thing of the past. All across the country, travel agencies are on the rebound. People have found that using an agent is still the best thing they can do to insure a great vacation. Remember Great Vacations start at Sunrise.
Eniko Jordan for the E Journal Extra.