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Agent Spotlight


Thunderbird Travel soars with seniors

Thunderbird Travel, located in Murphysboro, Illinois, has survived—and thrived—despite the ever-changing travel industry by developing a unique niche: senior citizen travel.

Run by the husband-and-wife team Lee and Cyndi Snyder, the 36-year-old travel agency, which also serves several departments at the nearby Southern Illinois University, offers its senior citizen clientele the kind of personal travel service they can’t find online.

Amadeus products like Amadeus Selling Platform, Amadeus Cruise and a membership with help Thunderbird Travel stay competitive. We recently sat down with Cyndi Snyder to talk about what makes her agency unique and successful.

Q. What makes Thunderbird Travel unique?
A. We specialize in senior travel. While we also do corporate travel and other types of leisure travel, many our clients are at the age where they’ve got the time and money to spend on longer vacations. They want to come in and sit down with someone who will do everything for them, whether it’s going over all the options or checking in online for them. As a teenager, I had the wonderful experience of living with my grandmother and I think that made me especially appreciative of the unique needs of this group of travelers.
Whether they are senior citizens or our corporate customers, we treat each client as if they are valuable, and develop relationships with the people we serve. We have a wealth of expertise and that builds trust with our customers—we know what we are doing and take care of their needs.

Q. What is the secret to Thunderbird Travel’s success?
A. Being willing to adapt with the changing times. We’re here to stay—but that means going with the flow, not stagnating. We relocated to Murphysboro, further away from our customers at Southern Illinois University, and now do most of our business with them by phone. When choosing a new location, we also took into consideration our growing business among seniors, and chose an area with less traffic so they could get to our office without a hassle. The new office has plenty of parking spaces and no steps—making it more accessible for seniors. The change in venue was a strategic move that allowed us to save operational costs as well. We channeled the money we saved into advertising—in the weekly senior insert in our local newspaper—and other marketing to grow our business.

One other thing that’s made us successful: I love what I do, and when you love what you do, people can tell.

Q. How long have you used Amadeus?
A. For six years.

Q. How has Amadeus helped Thunderbird Travel succeed?
A. Amadeus is simple, easy to use and the features fit our needs as a travel agency. I especially like Amadeus I put this at the bottom of itineraries so customers can access all their information in one place.

Q. What new developments lie ahead for Thunderbird Travel?
A. We’re focusing on diversifying so we’re not putting all of our eggs in one basket. When you’re a small agency, you have to continually become knowledgeable about new developments in this ever-changing market so you can remain on top.

Are you an independent travel agent with a specialized take on doing business?

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