You know life is getting back to normal when Travel Leaders Networks start up their regional meetings and mixers – in person.
190 advisors and 36 suppliers convened at the Delta Toronto Airport Hotel this week for learning, updates and networking (and yes, there were squeals of recognition). Regional meetings will be held later this month in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal. The Toronto get together followed six local TLN “Mixers” held since August in smaller centres.
The half-day session included member updates, a “maximize your membership” panel, a supplier game show and update, trade show, and dinner (with prizes, of course!)
“Every event we have had has been emotional – everyone so thrilled to actually interact face-to-face,” said Christine James, Vice-President Canada for the consortium. Some 1,400 advisors and suppliers attended the annual EDGE conference in Orlando last month. TLN now numbers some 700 agencies across Canada, of which TTAND is only one.
It’s been a tough haul, but the group has signed on 22 new suppliers in the past year, as diverse as Thailand, a private jet company, SAS, a villa company, Ireland and a golf specialist. “A very nice mix,” as James puts it, “Because as we have all learned, you can’t Zoom a vacation.” 40 more Canadian agencies also signed on to join TLN in 2020.
TLN continues to promote its Agent Profiler lead generation program which year to date has provided some 4,500 leads to Canadian advisors, almost as many as pre-pandemic. The free benefit includes a profile (TLN has staff writers to help with that), and, new this year, ICs can specify where they are located; can add their years of experience; and clients can request a Zoom meeting; and advisors and pause, such as when on vacation, or redirect their leads to a colleague.
However the challenges aren’t over yet. Like everyone, TLN managers can find it difficult to find staff or bring staffers back. Supplier hold-times continue to be frustratingly long, and some agencies are struggling to deal with the surge of group inquiries.
But, as James puts it, “Let’s face it, we love this business. The one positive side is that people will need travel agents more than ever.”