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Travel Leaders Network Excited for Future, Enhances Program Offerings

Travel Leaders Network’s annual Edge (educate/discover/gather/evolve) Conference at Universal Orlando is the largest live conference the company has had since the spring of 2019. The event runs from Monday to Thursday of this week with 1,400 registered attendees.

The travel industry will return to 2019 levels by 2023, said John Lovell, president of the Travel Leaders Group, addressing media from the event. “Ships are in the water, planes are in the air and people are traveling again,” he said; “enthusiasm is really high and you can feel it in the air.”

Travel Leaders Network (TLN) is part of Travel Leaders Group (TLG), a division of Internova Travel Group, representing more than 62,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 locations in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

Executives discussed the progress made even during the pandemic with plans for the recovery. Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer, said the U.S. and Canadian lead generation solutions expect to generate 150,000 leads back to advisors this year. Consumers choose advisors based on viewing profiles that can be filtered by geography, specialty and more.TRENDING NOWTravel Agents Are Back!

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Among the enhancements to the Agent Profiler lead generation program are:

– Clients can now make appointments with advisors for a video “visit”; and advisors can post times when they are available.

– A Pause Lead feature allows advisors to automatically send a response to a lead if they are not able to respond quickly because they are traveling, etc. “Digital leads,” said Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer for TLG, “are extremely perishable.” This tool allows the advisor to take time off without having to worry about a backlog of leads. The advisor’s profile will remain up, although they will not be able to be called, and users will see a customizable note that they are not open to new leads at the moment.

– An actual agent’s name can be placed on emails to clients, rather than an agency name, making it “more relevant and more personal.”

– New information on the Agent Profiler includes the number of years a member has been an advisor and, if an advisor has completed TLN’s Book With Confidence program, a badge is added to their profile to let users know they are experts in traveling safely in this Covid era.

Relaunching Distinctive Voyages

On the cruise front, TLN has relaunched its Distinctive Voyages program, which McGillivray called the “crown jewel” of the network’s cruise programs and will include 578 departures in 2022 and 2023. Added benefits include a private welcome reception and an amenity. These sailings feature an onboard TLN representative who acts as a “concierge host” for clients. The representative can help with any issues, booking shore excursions, dining reservations and more. That includes exclusive shore excursions, which had been on hiatus and are now back. Also back on the schedule are car and driver programs where passengers get off a ship and have a private four-hour tour with an English-speaking driver or with a driver and English-speaking guide.

Also back on the cruise front are Amenity Departures Dates, with extra benefits for clients on board like shipboard credit, specialty restaurant meals, excursion credit, wine and pre-paid gratuities, as well as extra commission for advisors.

A third cruise option, said McGillivray, is the Culinary Collection, which offers additional food and beverage benefits for clients, including cooking lessons and free wine.

Education Expands

Roger Block, president of TLN, said that this year has seen a graduating class of 233 for specialist education, the largest in history. The in-depth courses, which can take up to two years, are broken down into six categories and there are currently 19,000 enrollees altogether. “We’re preaching the value of becoming an absolute expert and our advisors are buying that,” said Block. He said that advisors are hearing from their colleagues that if they are certified as specialists they will get more customers.

“Education is very important to the network,” said Block. With more advanced training, experience and networking, he said, “advisors can better close sales.”

Block said the TLN network is growing despite the economic need to reduce recruitment staff. Some large agencies have been brought on in the past 12 months, including 38 new members in Canada bringing the total there to over 700.

In answer to a question, Lovell said the company is still considering how to use the Vacation.com site that it owns. He said the existing sites are such good lead generators that it has allowed the company to “think differently” about how to best utilize Vacation.com.

And asked about the “Book Human” campaign launched recently by Internova, Lovell said it was “never designed to be a lead generation tool.” Instead, it was aimed to show people “the value of a travel professional and the power of human connectivity.”

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