TORONTO – Travel Professionals International (TPI) has partnered with travel financing platform Uplift and will be unrolling a payment plan tool for its advisors this summer, PAX has learned.
Colton Chia, director of partnerships at TPI, confirmed the news with PAX via telephone this morning. “I love that Uplift is focused on travel exclusively,” Chia told PAX. “It’s a great tool for our advisors to offer flexible payment solution to our clients.”
Uplift, a Silicon Valley FinTech company that gives travellers the ability to book now and pay over time, was launched in 2017 by CEO Brian Barth.
The web-based tool was first introduced to Canada last March, and works exclusively through industry partners by integrating a monthly payment option into booking flows while offering custom-tailored payment solutions for travel agents and call centres.
Beyond offering a payment solution service, Uplift gives customers an option “they might not have thought about,” Chia said. “That’s key.”
Getting ready to launch
TPI will officially introduce Uplift within its network of travel advisors mid-June, Chia said.
Preliminary testing of the platform began last week by a select group of people consisting of TPI’s advisory board members, tech committee and select travel agents.
“The idea was to roll it out to a small group and get feedback and input. To make sure everything is running smoothly,” Chia told PAX. “Any customizations that need to be made, we can add.”
Part of TPI incorporating Uplift into its day-to-day operations was about identifying different types of client profiles and how each could benefit from a payment solution.
“A lot of people think of a payment solution as, ‘I don’t have the money.’ But in reality, it’s about cash management,” Chia said, citing accessibility, affordability and reward as three motivating factors that drive payment solutions for travel.
Whether it’s that couple who wants to splurge on a 20th-anniversary trip or a bucket list safari on the other side of the world, it all comes down to giving the customer what they want.
“If [customers] want flexibility, then we should be able to offer that as a travel advisor,” said Chia. “We can work with them to plan a big-scale trip, further out.”
Quick and easy
Uplift’s accessible platform was a big sell for TPI.
“You take the amount of a trip, put it in the tool, and it automatically calculates a price and monthly payment plan that [advisors] can discuss with clients to see if this is something they’d be interested in,” Chia explained.
The program will give customers the option of paying for travel over 12 months (the first payment is made at the time of the booking and then 11 monthly payments will follow).
“It’s not a predatory loan provider. It’s simple interest,” Chia said. “What you see is what you’re going to pay.”
TPI Agent feedback
TPI travel advisor Carl Henderson, a Certified Tahiti Specialist, admits he wasn’t initially sold on Uplift in the beginning.
“My initial reaction was that [financing a trip] would be the last thing in the world I’d want to promote,” Henderson said in a statement. “[I was] thinking about getting all these clients that can’t afford to travel, wasting my time. I want to go for clients with lots of money, not no money.”
But after researching it more, he realized that Uplift “seems pretty seamless from the advisor side.”
“I also realize the number of Tahiti honeymoon clients that come to me and say they have a $10,000 budget, which is just not enough for a good trip to Tahiti. They need at least $13,000 to $15,000,” he said.
“My thoughts are that this could be a great tool [for] people who are doing those big-ticket, bucket list trips and are just shy of the amount they need to achieve it,” he said.
“I think it could really help me close some sales that I am losing or having to switch to less expensive destinations,” Henderson added.