18 OCT 2012: More exhibitors, the largest number of prizes and a growing membership sounds like it’s too good to be true. But when your conference theme is ‘Aim High’ hosted by the largest travel services marketing organization in North America Vacation.com - maybe there’s a reason for the numbers surge.


On hand at the company's recent annual regional trade shows in Toronto were Vacation.Com's president and CEO, John Lovell, and Christine James, vice-president Canada, and the mood was electric.

The show’s success


The 14th annual Canadian Fall Regional Conference & Trade Shows saw members head to some cool technology sessions to hear ground-breaking topics; hear a power speaker session discussing how to “Make Money While You Sleep;” visit the exhibitor booths; and then, complete the day with a sit-down dinner.

James said she has never seen such record breaking numbers on all levels in her 13 years with the company.

“We had over 40 supplier exhibits in Toronto. It has been our biggest showing for suppliers and members who attended,” she says finishing off a busy week that will only continue in the next couple of weeks as Vacation.com Canada heads to Edmonton on October 23 and Vancouver, BC on October 25 to complete the annual regional shows.

“The ultimate goal for Vacation.com members who attend is to learn realistic ideas that will make a positive impact on their business and are easy to implement,” she adds.

One of the reasons she attributes the success is the value these events pose to the suppliers and members. “We bring suppliers and members together,” James says and adds, “We just don’t do the trade show we have a technology session in the afternoon where we show our new marketing and booking tools for the membership then break-out sessions.”

Front line agents are shown how to use the booking tools in customized training sessions. Owner/managers are given marketing guidelines and best practices on how to grow their business.

Show me the money

It’s all about how members can make money.

On the new products level, James says V.com has introduced three key tools AirPRO, Stream and CruisePro (soon-to-be-released) in 2012 - all commission oriented.

AirPRO is now totally revamped with www.AgentUniverse.com. Agents have access to over 80 airlines with commissions ranging from 5-25 percent depending on the carrier along with third-party ticket fulfillment. “It’s a single sign-on entry. It’s more user-friendly and we’ve been getting great feedback from our suppliers and the membership.”

James explains with AirPRO transactions that took forever now take only minutes. ‘Members have full access from point A to B on all the available carriers with their fares and the commissionable earnings in a single display.”

On the hotel side, Stream is the new booking engine for hotels. “Again single sign-on through the Agent Universe portal. We have access to 70,000 hotels worldwide. It’s a guaranteed 12 percent commission and it’s paid monthly to the member.”

Gone are the days waiting for that commission cheque from Timbuktu. “The commission cheques are disbursed by the V.com HQ in Virginia on a monthly basis for all their bookings.”

Cruise Market

The growing demand in the cruise market will also be met by a new tool called CruisePRO which will instantly allow agents to determine availability, excursion details, and exclusive offers – all in one. “You can forget about the Excel spreadsheets, phone calls, and cross referencing,” she says about the earlier methods used which she admits were time consuming.

Watch for CruisePRO, a new cruise booking engine ready for release over the next few weeks. “This is very exciting because we are not only pulling in all the cruise content by all the providers in the marketplace but we are also integrating our own cruise space,” says James.

Perks at no additional charge will be the big selling feature. There will be choices from amenity programmes at no additional charge to the Vacation Vignette which is the escorted hosted departures. “We send a Vacation.com host on board and the client gets an exclusive excursion and a cocktail reception again at no additional cost to the client.”

You know how busy agents are and the challenges that come along with it. “We are committed to ensuring our members have access to all the tools and programs they need in order to be successful. Additionally, we pride ourselves on sharing effective sales techniques with our members to teach them how to ‘sell up’ in order to increase revenues – especially in the luxury segment.”

Prizes


Over 15 suppliers donated prizes with the largest number of trip prizes (10) awarded this year.

“The grand prize is a Royal Caribbean Cruise for two,” she smiles. Other trip prizes were WestJet air tickets for two; tickets for two to any Sunwing destination; and a $500 travel voucher from G Adventures among many more.

Agency owners wishing to learn more about Vacation.com’s various training programs and the other benefits of becoming a Vacation.com member can go to www.joinvacation.com.

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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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