North America’s largest retail travel agency network amps up education, marketing and technology offerings for 2020
New York, NY (January 28, 2020) – Now in its third year as a unified enterprise, Travel Leaders Network, the largest retail travel agency organization in North America, experienced a year of unprecedented growth as the network expanded into 81 countries and added new domestic agencies as well. It anticipates further growth in 2020.
“We set the stage for a strong beginning to the new decade with innovative technology tools, an enhanced education and training program, increases in marketing and destination partnerships and growing engagement in meetings and events,” said Roger E. Block, CTC, President, Travel Leaders Network. In 2019, the agency organization added 283 new U.S. members, including cruise powerhouse World Travel Holdings, Inc., and 28 new Canadian members.
In addition, Travel Leaders Network launched a major international expansion adding new members in more than 80 countries around the globe. In 2018, the network had a presence in six countries. With a unique “glocal” value proposition, Travel Leaders Network, in partnership with sister company, Travel Leaders Corporate, is competing for multi-national corporate accounts by offering personalized local service combined with the backing and resources of a large enterprise. Dozens of agencies from Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia have joined Travel Leaders Network as members since the expansion initiative began early last year.
One of the ways Travel Leaders Network is positioning itself for success is by being responsive to the latest developments in the travel marketplace. John Lovell, President – Leisure Travel, Supplier Relations and Networks, for Travel Leaders Group, the parent organization of Travel Leaders Network, painted an optimistic picture for the travel marketplace in 2020 driven by key trends, such as the explosive growth of the cruise industry including the forecast that 32 million passengers will take a cruise in 2020.
“We create programs and products that highlight the value of using travel advisors and give our advisors an edge over the competition,” said Lovell. “Demonstrating the value of the travel advisor and increasing their profitability are at the center of everything we do.”
Another major trend spurring the desire for curated travel include the rediscovery of “Guided Vacations” among travelers. “Guided Vacations have made a huge comeback, especially among Millennial travelers who are looking for deeper insight and exploration,” Lovell said, noting that such experiences now offer more options off-the-beaten path in smaller, more intimate groups where all logistics are handled.
Cruise & Lodging Programs
A number of new programs and marketing tools were launched to assist agencies in marketing to and servicing clients.
The organization distributed a consumer marketing video that promotes its Distinctive Voyages program to assist agencies in selling the 839 departures on 10 cruise lines that are offered through the program. Distinctive Voyages is a Travel Leaders Network exclusive hosted cruise collection of sailings that features complimentary added amenities, such as a private welcome reception, an exclusive shore event and the expertise of a Distinctive Voyages host on board each sailing. Available cruise departures through the program increased by 30 percent over 2019. Approximately 17,500 passengers sailed on a Distinctive Voyage in 2019 generating over $50 million in cruise sales.
The SELECT Hotels & Resorts program, the exclusive Travel Leaders Group luxury amenity program, increased the number of hotels in its collection by 20% to include 1,542 properties. Additionally, Travel Leaders Network members now have access to SELECT Villas, a newly launched collection of over 2,000 private villas in more than 50 destinations throughout Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas, offering VIP amenities for clients and guaranteed commissions.
Education and Training
A new education program and Professional Learning Path with tiered-level workshops was unveiled at the EDGE 2019 Conference. In Fall 2020, the organization plans to introduce a Continuing Education Units (CEU) Program designed specifically for graduates of any of the six Certified Specialist Programs (Leisure Travel, Business Travel, Luxury Travel, Honeymoon & Destination Wedding, Active & Adventure Travel, Group Travel). The CEU will take advisors even deeper into their designated niches and offer additional benefits for participants.
“The tiered education concept was a home run and we feel confident that the targeted continuing education opportunity will be equally well-received,” said Block.
Meetings & Events
The first-ever Leisure Leaders Meeting was held in fall 2019 at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Florida – a two-day assembly of the network’s largest leisure sellers. It featured networking opportunities, as well as ongoing dialogue about common business issues and perspectives on the future of the industry. The Leisure Leaders Meeting is a complement to the annual Executive Forum which focuses on corporate travel.
Meanwhile, international meetings continue to gain momentum. Nearly 100 advisors convened at Petra Marriott Hotel for the 7th Annual International Summit in Petra, Jordan in 2019. The 2020 International Summit in Jaipur, India will take place March 13-16, 2020 in the “Pink City” of Jaipur and is nearly sold out.
In addition, attendance at the annual conference is in high demand. Shortly after opening registration for its EDGE 2020 Conference, to be held June 6-9 at the Universal Orlando Resort, the conference promptly sold out. This follows a highly-successful EDGE 2019 Conference with the largest attendance ever, more than 2,100.
On the technology front, the company’s Agent Profiler online lead generation tool surpassed targets generating 170,000 leads for participating travel advisors. More than 8,300 advisors now have published profiles.
With the 2019 launch of Profiler Plus, an enhanced version of Agent Profiler, advisors can now build a more robust profile to attract more qualified leads. In fact, participants in Profiler Plus generated six times more leads than advisors using the basic Agent Profiler offering. The tool allows advisors to post videos to a profile to create a more personal connection with prospective and existing clients.
Travel Leaders Network continues to deepen its partnerships with its more two dozen destination marketing organizations designing highly targeted campaigns to assist destinations in reaching their goals. The program encompasses advisor communications, training and education, workshops, fam trips, conferences and events, allowing destinations to target seasons and specific types of travelers.
At the same time, the organization’s marketing engagement program has grown with more than over 210 million direct mail and email promotions delivered to consumers in 2019. Refinements in Engagement Marketing included increasing the size of direct mail pieces, upgrading the paper quality for luxury mailings, enabling multiple state Seller of Travel Numbers on Engagement pieces, and improving the content in Postcards magazine as well as Ascend, a corporate travel magazine.
“We strive to stay one step ahead in providing our advisors with the tools and resources they need to grow their businesses and profitability,” said Block. “Our philosophy is to be a member-focused organization. We solicit ideas and feedback from our members on a continual basis and tailor our products and services based on their needs. We understand that if they are successful, we are successful and that’s a winning proposition.”
Travel agencies interested in learning more about the award-winning programs and diverse offerings that Travel Leaders Network provides to agencies in leisure and luxury travel, business travel, group travel, honeymoon and destination weddings – as well as active and adventure travel – can visit TravelLeadersNetwork.com.
About Travel Leaders Network
Travel Leaders Network (www.TravelLeaders.com) assists millions of leisure and business travelers annually, and is one of the largest sellers of luxury travel, cruises and tours in the travel agency industry, with approximately 5,700 travel agency locations across the United States and Canada. Travelers also have access to The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group, a selection of travel offers and discounts available at no additional cost to holders of select American Express® cards. For more information visit www.TheTravelCollection.com.