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Storm clouds clearing for storefront travel agents?

After decades of decimation at the hands of online travel sites and a recession that torpedoed many people’s vacation plans, storm clouds seem to be clearing for storefront travel agents.

Liberty Travel, a pioneering brick-and-mortar travel agency is expanding its New York City presence.


The vacation planning company is increasing its footprint at its current flagship location on Madison Avenue and adding an another location on 14th Street near Union Square.

Liberty Travel’s flagship location, at 269 Madison Avenue, will grow to 13,118 s/f total, with the addition of the second floor, adding to the 10,000 s/f on the ground floor that the company already occupies. At the new location, 25 West 14th Street, the firm will occupy 3,100 s/f, with 33 feet of frontage on 14th Street. Both the expansion and new location are slated to open this fall.

“This is an important moment for Liberty Travel here in the United States as they continue to expand in New York as well as in other major cities around the country,” said Gene Meer, president of the New York City office of Friedland Realty Advisors, which arranged both the expansion and new location for Liberty Travel.

“Friedland Realty is thrilled to be working with the company during this exciting time and we look forward to bringing more Liberty Travel retail locations to market in the future.”

In addition to the new 14th Street location and its Madison Avenue flagship location, Liberty Travel has six other retail locations in Manhattan, and multiple locations in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Long Island.

Meer has worked with many big-name corporate and luxury brands in securing flagship locations in NYC, including Citizen Watch Company in North America, A/X, Armani, Bice, Chanel, Chopard, Mikimoto, Roberto Cavalli, David Yurman, and Valentino.

In January 2008, Liberty Travel was bought by Australian-based Flight Centre Limited, one of the world’s largest travel groups.

Liberty Travel is expanding on Madison Avenue
Liberty Travel is expanding on Madison Avenue

In 2012, the firm first opened its flagship location in NYC, with plans to open 10 more similar storefronts as large as 8,000 s/f across the U.S. in the next five years.

The first Liberty Travel store opened in Times Square in 1951. The company now has more than 160 stores staffed by more than 800 travel agents. The national brand has stores in several states, but has an especially strong presence on the East Coast.

In an interview earlier this year, Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) told travel industry analysts at Skift, “Consumers are increasingly using travel advisors. Average sales are on the rise, and agencies are thriving with 84 percent of ASTA members in the first three quarters of 2014 reporting that their revenues were better than the year before.

“I think the reason behind that is there is so much information available now to people on the internet that you need a professional guide to make sense of it all.”

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