23 JAN 2018: Coming off a record breaking year, Travel Leaders Network is not resting on its laurels. TL Network considered North America's largest travel agent network reports a 47 percent increase in lead distribution and has added 51 new member agencies in Canada (300 agencies overall) through its revamped integrated network.  

Last year TL Franchise Group consolidated its three brands together (Travel Leaders Associates, Results! Travel and Vacation.com) into TL Network beefing up the network and in turn, spiking up member agents' close ratio.

"We are experiencing a 1 in 4 close rate of leads so every four people who reach out to us by email or phone actually end up buying," said Roger Block, president of TL Network, of the average transaction valued at over US$5,000.

To date, it's the company's biggest success story in its new network.

"We continue to innovate," adds John Lovell, president of TL Network and Leisure Group as he and others on the executive team briefed travel trade media last week on the company's efforts to stay relevant, boost sales, and enhance skills.

"We don't sit on what we've done in the past. We continue to evolve," says John who emphasized the network's core values are in keeping its members relevant and at the forefront of the industry.

"Each year as the member sits there and has to write the cheque I want them to do it with a smile on their face because we are driving money back into their business."

The launch of canadiantravelagents.ca, which was introduced last year as an online tool to showcase TL Network Canadian agents in "compelling profiles and best stories" is one example. On the organization's Canadian activity, Christine James, vice-president, Canada for TL Network, highlighted how Mixer meetings scheduled in 2018 at various venues across the country are pretty much "sold out" on supplier commitment for these agent-supplier networking get-togethers. "Christine knows her members," adds Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer of TL Group. "She has the secret sauce."

She told Travel Industry Today during a past Vancouver regional trade show, the attendance outsized the venue. "We were bursting at the seams at our trade show and they couldn't fit us in for dinner," recounts the longstanding senior executive on one of TL Canada's earlier conferences (then known as Vacation.com), which switched from the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver to the Vancouver Convention Centre.

On lead generation, Stephen explained how combining the three companies' resources into one, has resulted in more offerings which has resulted in US$150-million in new business. "That's not going into our agency that's going into our members agency," he says as he explains this year the company will ramp up even more marketing strategies especially on social media initiatives like Facebook advertising.

Leading Edge Innovations and Technology

The company specializing in travel technology has a team of product specialists and technologists to build customized solutions. Media in attendance heard, "We have 100 staff in our I.T. Department. Most of our competitors don't have 100 staff."

There is Agent Profiler, the agent specialist digital rolodex programme; and tools such as AgentMate, and www.CanadianTravelAgents.ca.

"Our agents are our products," explains Jeremy Van Kuyk, vice-president of technology, on the agent-specific content created to drive consumers to the website, which he further notes has resulted in the TL Network being the leader on travel agent related web searches.

Leaders Edge provides agencies with a local presence while focusing on their biggest asset: travel agents. The programme is fully integrated with its Agent Profiler and marketing programmes.

"Leaders Edge is fully customizable by the agency and allows for unique branding in order to highlight the agencies value proposition," reports the company. In Leaders Edge, the company has over 190 individual websites with more additions coming online.

In 2018 the company will release its air and car booking platform and a membership and loyalty platform.

Heightened Marketing capabilities

A big push on marketing efforts has enhanced digital, social and direct mail programmes. TL Network produces two separate glossy publications: Postcards, a magazine targeting affluent travellers that saw a record circulation of 1.8 million households last year and Destination Bliss, a two-in-one publication for the honeymoons and weddings market.

Leading Supplier Partnerships in Cruises and Hotels

The Select Hotels and Resorts programme is expected to grow its inventory over 1,000 hotels with enhanced commissions and special amenity offerings in over 100 of these hotels. "Our goal is to build the industry's most robust hotel programme," says Block.

Expanded Educational and Training Opportunities

The company reports over 40,000 agents participate in at least one of the on-demand online lessons. "There is a thirst in our membership in learning," notes Block.

In 2018 watch out for three major new training programmes:

Successful Selling using the Leisure Sales process - Members can register for a 16-week study program in leisure sales including an interactive e-learning platform with weekly peer group sessions.

Group Travel Specialist Programme - members are trained in planning, selling, managing and marketing group travel. Upon completion graduates earn a "Certified Group Travel Specialist" designation.

New Meetings and Events Workshops geared for MICE - TL Network Associates register in this 2-day on-site corporate travel training event to learn how to build successful meetings and events programs from hotel contracts to technology.

More specialist programmes

Last year the company launched a new Specialist Programme, a 12-18 month course covering active adventure, luxury, leisure and corporate which attracted 430 enrollees and has resulted in 59 new graduates. "Leisure travel and luxury travel were the most popular segments," says Block on the intensive course which costs $325.

This year TL Network is adding the growing adventure travel segment to its specialist certification program. "More individual groups want to be active," Block says. Working with the leading global adventure travel network, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), TL Network has launched a new Active and Adventure Specialist certificate. For qualified member specialists they receive such value-added benefits as conference discounts to attend the upcoming Adventure Travel World Summit this fall in Tuscany. Participating members can attend special agent workshops and enjoy the low/no cost adventure travel extensions among other inclusions.

The EDGE

The company's annual international conference which recognizes its top performing star members through its prestigious awards ceremony gets a new name: The EDGE. It stands for "Educate, Discover, Gather and Evolve."

This year it will be held at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas June 12-16

Some highlights: advanced educational training seminars; the latest industry innovations from TL Network and industry partners; a new hotel marketplace; and, the popular networking sessions with peers and supplier executives.

"That's what we do we bring people together. We want people to learn to continue to progress their business at a local level," concludes Lovell.



 

 

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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