Visa U.S.A. Inc.'s members will see a lot more of the association's executives this year, as it opens new offices in New York, Chicago, and Atlanta in the coming months.
Previously, Visa conducted member relations and sales functions from its headquarters in San Francisco and an office in McLean, Va.
Feedback from member financial institutions indicated that the Visa staff was "stretched too thin," said David A. Brooks, Visa's executive vice president of market development.
He also said that he plans to increase his staff by 60% over the next year, but he would not say how large the staff is currently.
Mr. Brooks, who joined Visa in March 1994, is in charge of its sales staff, and one of his first assignments was to determine whether the association was using its resources wisely.
"I figured that if I put sales people closer to members that our costs would go down and pay for these offices," said Mr. Brooks.
Such costs include airline tickets, hotel stays, and travel time.
MasterCard has 76 member-relations executives based out of four offices in Chicago, San Ramon, Calif., Atlanta, and New York. The New York-based association does not have plans to increase its sale force or to open new offices, said a spokesman.
In January, Visa leased an office in midtown Manhattan. Mr. Brooks estimates that between 12 and 17 people will work out of New York, that 13 will be based in Atlanta, and 17 in Chicago. The Atlanta and Chicago offices are expected to open in March.
Each office will report to one of two executives Randall A. Chestler, who has been running the sales staff in San Francisco, and William M. Moore, who heads the McLean office. Both executives, who report to Mr. Brooks, will be in charge of their own immediate staffs of about 13.
No changes are planned in Visa's sales strategy. Account executives will still be responsible for promoting Visa's full stable of products, including debit, commercial, and gold cards as well as remote banking.
More than 95% of Visa's revenue stream, however, is derived from Visa's classic and gold credit cards, said Mr. Brooks, adding that evolving products are important for future profits, but the sales staff focuses on the basic products.