It was an upbeat team of executives from Travel Leaders Network who spoke live with the travel trade media from their annual convention, this year at Universal Studios Florida.
“You can feel the enthusiasm in the room – it’s a very emotional time,” commented Travel Leaders Group President John Lovell, after stating that he believes that the industry is on the “other side” of COVID. “Ships are in the water, planes are in the air: we anticipate being back to full, i.e. pre-pandemic, strength by 2023.”
Some 1,400 managers and advisors are attending the convention, which runs through 21OCT and features a combination of general sessions and workshops – over 100 of them.
Stephen McGillivray, Chief Marketing Officer spoke of the importance of cruising to TLN, and outlined various comprehensive programs available to members. These include the “crown jewel”: the Distinctive Voyages program with blocked space on 578 sailings in 2002-23 and exclusive shore events as well as other benefits including a private cocktail party for clients. TLN is partnering with 12 cruise lines, including AmaWaterways, Cunard, Seabourn and Windstar. “All cruise space is marketing under the agency name, not as Travel Leaders,” he was careful to point out as well as the fact that all prices are available in Canadian dollars.
The company’s lead generation program, Agent Profiler, has also been enhanced over the past year. “In 2021 we estimate we will provide over 150,000 leads to our advisors,” said McGillivray.
Consumers are now able to search for an advisor by town or city; advisors can now include their number of years in the industry; and clients can request video appointments. In addition, advisors heading away on vacation or business now have the capability to temporarily turn off the search engine.
President of TLN, Roger Block, addressed education, and was proud to point out that of 55,000 travel advisors in the group, some 19,000 of them are currently enrolled in a training program – which can take up to two years. “We offer six areas of training: leisure, luxury, honeymoons and destination weddings, active/adventure, group and corporate travel,” he told the group.
Block added that the group has added almost 200 new members this year, representing US$420M in sales.
The annual conference coincides with news this week that TTAND and its 900-plus agents are also joining TLN. As TTAND Founder and CEO Flemming Friisdahl told Open Jaw’s Ian Smyth in a video interview, over 98% of TTAND advisors voted for the switch, based on TLN’s luxury hotel program, group cruise space, and air consolidation strengths.