Putman Travel Expands in Wake of Industry Revitalization

GREENVILLE, S.C., June 27 /PRNewswire/ — Putman Travel is opening 5 new SC offices June 15th, a direct response to the travel industry trend of customers returning to travel agencies after being burned on the internet. “Travel agencies are rebounding,” said CEO, Mike Putman. “Consumers are taking notice of online ticket prices going up, and they fed up with the lack of service online travel giants provide.”

“Brick-and-Mortar” Agencies, as they are often referred to in order to differentiate from the online-only travel companies, experienced an industry downturn in recent years when airlines slowly fazed out the commissions they once paid to travel agents.

Meanwhile, the travel websites took off by launching a PR war, painting an image that travel agencies were more complicated, time consuming, and expensive than booking online. Although the web brokers sold preferential placement and advertising to travel companies (ensuring that the airlines, cruise lines, etc. who advertised with them had more visibility on their website) the campaign seemed to work. And after the events of September 11 occurred, the entire U.S. travel industry suffered and some agencies buckled.

Putman Travel, however, remained in business and continued to focus on its commitment to provide the highest level of knowledge, expertise, and customer service.

“There isn’t a place you can travel that one of our agents hasn’t either been to or knows something about,” said Lynn Hayes, manager of Putman Travel’s Greenville branch. “And our jobs don’t stop once the traveler departs. We are there for them while they are on their trip, answering questions and providing assistance to ensure they have the most enjoyable trip possible.”

Travelers are definitely adapting their buying habits, as Putman Travel has noticed a recent surge in business as consumers are returning to their local travel agent. This has prompted the opening of 5 new offices spanning from Spartanburg to Seneca in addition to the two offices Putman Travel acquired last February in Hayesville, SC and Hiawassee, GA.

“We are growing with the industry, and seeking new markets to offer our award winning services,” Putman said. Putman Travel has been voted Best of the Upstate 12 years by readers of the Greenville News.

Even as with the current industry trend, Putman Travel still sometimes faces the stigma that they are more expensive than a trip booked online. This is untrue, as travel agents are accessing the same fare databases as online travel companies.

In fact, as one of the largest independently-owned travel agencies in the southeast, Putman Travel is able to leverage its sales volume to negotiate better pricing as well as other perks for their clients from airlines, cruise lines, and tour companies.

The 5 new SC locations will be on Blackstock Road in Spartanburg, Wells Highway in Seneca, Fairview Road in Simpsonville, and Poinsett Highway & Woodruff road in Greenville.

Travelers will now have the choice of several locations when seeking out consultation for their next journey. “It takes knowledge and expertise to properly book a trip, especially complicated multi- country excursions, and group departures,” Putman went on to say.

“Without the sound advice of your travel agent, you may be completely unprepared for the cultural and environmental unexpected. A travel agent guides you every step of the way, and takes care of you even if something should go wrong while you are on your trip.” And since the same pricing is available whether you book online, directly with the supplier, or through a travel agency, why not take advantage of the free service?

Even then, some clients still prefer to book online. In response to this, Putman Travel has implemented a easy to use booking engine on their website to facilitate air, car, & hotel packages, and cruises. But there is one major difference — the fares are all locally ticketed and serviced. If you have any questions about your purchase, you simply call a local Putman Travel office instead of “Bob in Bangalore.”

This is a great option for those who want the control of booking their own travel, but want the safety net that local service can provide. “Our corporate clients especially like booking online. We are able to set up logins for their travelers which amend the booking engine to their individual travel policies, with an easy interface that allows you to book every facet of your trip, down to whether you want a window or aisle seat,” Putman said.

As consumers return to Travel agencies to take advantage of the variety of services and expertise they provide, Putman Travel continues to create lifelong travel memories for its clients.

The new mindset of many in the travel industry can best be summed up by the simple and pointed advertising slogan of the American Society of Travel Agents: “Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.”

About Putman Travel:

Since 1985, Putman Travel has been one of the largest travel agencies in the southeast with offices in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Headquartered in Greenville, SC; the agency features a leisure travel store, corporate travel center, as well as online travel booking fulfillment.

For more information, visit www.putman.com. Putman Travel has been voted “Best of the Upstate” by readers of the Greenville News for 12 years. And is a member of the following organizations:

– International Association of Travel Agents
– Cruise Line International Association
– Airlines Reporting Corporation

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