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AGENT INTERVIEW: why italk means you win

We speak to DEAN HEKE, joint owner/manager of italktravel Blue Mountains in NSW, about why he decided to join the franchise.

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What attracted you to the italktravel franchise brand?

A number of things but for us the size of the group was a big appeal. I’m a big fan of being part of the group because I think it offers support, value and branding.


So what are the benefits to you of being a part of this network? 

With italktravel, the fact you can actually be heard at the top level, sit down and have a beer with the CEO and offer suggestions about ways we can all do things better. It feels very much like family.

That was never the kind of access we’ve had before at any of the other franchise groups. Being able to be heard and feel like you can affect change is a big advantage of being with the group.

Because we are reasonably strong in our own area, our focus has always been on local area marketing. With some of the other groups you’re railroaded a little bit into paying for marketing that isn’t relevant to your business or area. 

Having the freedom of not having a national marketing levy, you’re able to focus those funds into your local area.


How has being part of italktravel helped the success of your business? 

As far as return on investment, the franchise fees arecheaper so financially you’re much better off. Come the end of the year and an extra $10,000 can make a big difference to how your business goes.

We always had a really successful business prior to joining. Certainly the financial side is certainly better because of the costs of being a part of that group.


Have you noticed other differences between the italkgroup and others?

They are a lot more pro-active in getting suppliers that are relevant. They’ve just signed an exclusive deal with Luxury Escapes, which I think is fantastic bonus and just another tool in your belt.

The ability to take on feedback, process that and then come back quite quickly with implementation of that suggestion, or reasons why they won’t go with that, is quite outstanding.

They’re also getting a bit more savvy in the marketing space and are marketing into areas that are giving them better results. I’ve noticed even where we are we are getting feedback about the brand and that’s really only changed in the last six months.


So do travel agencies still have relevance in today’s marketplace?

Absolutely. Travel agents are relevant if consumers realise what we’re there for. We’ve moved into a service-driven era and the reason we are still relevant is because we focus on making sure that it’s all about the service.

It’s about supplying the customer what they want and not pushing our agenda. We make sure that once you book with us, you want to come and book with us again.


Written by: DEAN HEKE as told to TRAVELTALK

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