Roger Block, President of Travel Leaders Network with John Lovell, President Travel Leaders Leisure Group
Christine James, TLN's Vice-President, Canada with Jeremy Vana Kuyk, Vice-President, Product and Solutions Delivery and Jennifer De La Cruz, Vice-President, Public Relations
The group addressing the travel trade media
"We are in the renaissance of the travel agent," John Lovell, president of the Travel Leaders Leisure Group told a group of travel trade media in Toronto on Monday. "This past year has been fantastic for Travel Leaders in terms of both growth and retention, and we feel 2019 is going to be at least as good."
The group today comprises some 7,000 agencies – company-owned, franchised and affiliated – in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland and Australia. Lovell says Travel Leaders is focused on continuing to expand its supplier network, member learning opportunities and social media and other marketing tools.
A recent survey by the group found that 36% of respondents plan to take a solo trip this year (even if they are not single); while 75% sometimes extend their business trips with a pleasure stay – the famous "bleisure" combo.
Other areas of growth include ocean cruising ("The round-the-world cruises are exploding," said Lovell), river cruising ("I wish they'd dredge a few more rivers in Europe!"), expedition cruising, long-haul travel, wellness travel and destinations which are bouncing back such as Turkey, Egypt and post-hurricane Caribbean.
TLN says it is well-positioned to help agents make the most of the boom. Its preferred hotel group has grown to 1,200 – each offering a client value-add such as late checkout for free breakfast -- with a new hard-copy guide to help agents close the sale.
The company is also launching a glossy quarterly magazine called Select, while its Select website features client and agent sections. TL says its group departures, which all agencies can sell into, are growing by leaps and bounds.
Christine James, the group's Vice-President for Canada, says the group has 680 agencies across the country – and at $475 CDN per year, considers membership an excellent value. "We estimate we deliver at least $20,000 of value to an agency, including our direct mail options which are available in both hard copy and email versions, the latter with video links."
Education is another important focus for the group, which now includes a total of five trainers and many optional educational programs, some highly immersive and taking up to a year to complete on a part time basis.
Canadiantravelagents.ca, another TLN initiative, has provided over 5,000 sales leads to the 567 Canadian agents registered with their bios.
Additional enhancements and initiatives will be announced at the annual Edge Convention, this year from 6-10JUN in Washington DC.
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.