Travel agencies have had a hard time in recent years but visiting here made me wonder where you get the good, sometimes best, deal AND personal attention?
It had never occurred to her that the customers came in to speak to her personally, and not only to benefit from the great service offered by the company she worked for. When someone told her that the customers she serviced were her customers, she started thinking about starting her own business. Today she runs a successful travel business with an interesting concept.
Tone Evensen started working for a travel agency in San Francisco when she first moved to the United States. Since she is of Swedish origin, she worked in the Scandinavian department. Her fellow workers would make comments about her loyal client following, and someone remarked that she could run a profitable business herself. She decided to try it and went into business for herself with the idea of continuing her personalized customer service with a focus on travel to Scandinavia. When her companion Michelle joined the business in 1989, the geographic focus expanded.
Michelle is from Latin America and is fluent in Spanish. She also lived in France and Italy for several years, so with her knowledge of the South American market, Tone’s knowledge in the Scandinavian market and their joint knowledge in the North American market, they offer their customers more than just good prices.
They both travel extensively and have worked with travelers for more than 30 years. This allows them to short-cut the research for many customers as they easily compare hotels, travel routes, best time for travel, where to hike, where to be careful and so on. Also, they are able to communicate with customers in their own languages which can be of great comfort for many. Together, they have knowledge in Swedish, Spanish, French and Italian. The name Scandia Travel Unlimited shows they offer help for travel in many parts of the world.
Is it or isn't it - less expensive on the internet? Many of us believe we can find cheaper travels on the Internet, a belief that is not entirely true. When I entered the Scandia Travel Unlimited office—which is fully furnished with furniture that once belonged to SAS—I got a warm greeting and sat down in an old SAS chair. I could feel the comfort and kindness that customers must feel.
Many travel agencies have closed their doors in recent years, and Tone's company faces less competition from local travel agencies but more from the Internet. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, which helps in difficult times,” says Tone. She points out the myth about the Internet having better prices, a reason the travel agency industry has faced a downturn in recent years. By booking your tickets through an agency, you have more security than if you are using Internet sites, which she says many customers value, especially if they have had a mishap after buying a ticket online. “We also help people when they get stranded, we help them find a local hotel, book alternative flights to the destination, and so on, which is something that is not always available from online ticket vendors and that the airlines may not do.”
A comment on the rating site Yelp confirms that it can often be cheaper to book travel through the team at Scandia Travel Unlimited. Tone says it depends on the travel, but it is very often that they do find better deals.
Scandia Travel Unlimited has a variety of customers: expats looking to go home for vacation, Americans with foreign heritage who are curious about their origin or business travels, and people who are planning a vacation. Among Scandia Travel Unlimited’s most common travels to Scandinavia is Hurtigrutten and the fjord county in Norway, and yearly arrangements for Gothia Cup in Sweden and Denmark. Outside Scandinavia, tours to Europe, Chile, Argentina and Mexico are very popular.
Scandia Travel Unlimited is now looking forward to introducing their customers to SAS's newest route between San Francisco International Airport and Copenhagen, and to continue helping people get better travels at good prices and excellent, personalized service.