Since opening in New York’s Times Square in 1951, Liberty Travel has grown to encompass 170 agencies in 14 states. Now, Liberty Travel is looking to the future with a new flagship store that weds innovative technology for customer use with personal service.
Located on Madison Avenue just a few blocks from the original Liberty Travel, the new retail outlet aims to “create a modern way of travel shopping that is driven through an expert,” president Emma Jupp told Travel Market Report.
“Our focus is bringing the consultant and technology together,” she said.
Liberty Travel plans to open as many as 15 stores based on the same concept over the next five years, according to Jupp. (See sidebar.)
Service with technology
Upon entering the 1,500-square-foot Liberty Travel store, visitors will be met by a concierge who will set them up with a Liberty Travel Vacation Expert. The store is staffed by 15 travel consultants, while most Liberty Travel locations house just five.
One area of the store, dubbed Explore Zone, is stocked with six iPads that customers can use to explore destinations around the world.
A group of Mobile Vacation Expects also roams the store with iPads in hand, reaching out to patrons directly.
The Zone experience
The outlet also has several distinct zones specializing in different aspects of travel.
There is a Cruise Zone, where customers fill out a questionnaire to help match them to specific cruise vacations.
A Flight Zone is staffed by three consultants.
The store’s MyTime Zone showcases Liberty’s MyTime concept, which provides clients with complimentary VIP perks available through the chain’s luxury resort partners. Offerings ranging from welcome gifts to chauffeured airport transfers and spa treatments are available at more than 120 resorts worldwide.
MyTime is a core component, as it leverages Liberty Travel’s scale and supplier relations.
Blueprint for the future
Liberty Travel expects that combining digital exploration with the experience of consulting a professional travel agent will be a powerful sales tool, Jupp said. “Technology appeals to all kinds of clients.
“The store is about providing innovative technology, and it exemplifies the vision of Liberty Travel as we evolve and grow,” said Jupp. “You’ll never get from the Internet what you’ll get from the travel consultant.”
That bodes well for the future of the travel agency industry, she suggested.
“The industry obviously has evolved significantly in the last few years, with the Internet and online booking,” admitted Jupp.”But online booking suffers from a lack of personal attention. Having that travel consultant to rely on is irreplaceable.”
New York Travel Center
Other features of Liberty’s new flagship store include 20-foot windows that are plastered with flat-screen monitors touting a variety of destinations and vacations.
In addition to its technology aspects, the store will offer daily events. On tap are visits from the agency’s top travel partners, like Trafalgar and Globus, which will offer special in-store deals to event attendees.
Liberty’s new retail store is one component of its new 8,000 square-foot New York Travel Center, which features four other brands owned by Flight Centre Limited: FCm Travel Solutions; Corporate Traveler; Stage and Screen Travel Services; Travel Associates; and CiEvents.
The retail complex has been under development since mid-2010.