Christine James, Vice-President, Vacation.com Canada

Christine James — Vice-President, Vacation.com Canada

Christine James, Vice-President, Vacation.com CanadaVacation.com had one of its best years ever in 2014, and future sales for 2015 are looking just as strong or better, says Christine James, Vice-President, Vacation.com Canada. Vacation.com now has 690 Canadian members ranging from large multi-branch agencies to traditional stand-alone bricks-and-mortar agencies to home-based agent, says James.

1. What sort of network growth did Vacation.com see in 2014?

James: We had another exceptional year at acquiring new members. We added a total of 84 members in 2014! This does not include the 28 Cruise Holidays locations that have been officially been integrated under the Vacation.com brand which officially came into effect Jan. 1, 2015. That brings our total membership to 690 to date.

2. What are some of Vacation.com’s newest programs and enhancements?

James: We added a number of enhancements to our existing programs over the past year but our newest and most exciting is one which we announced at our International Conference last June in Vegas.

We plan to prominently enhance our public-facing website –vacation.com – to engage consumers, optimize this potentially prolific domain name and bring new growth opportunities for our members.

At the core of this new program is a new online tool, called Agent Snapshot, which enables agents to introduce themselves and their travel experiences to consumers on vacation.com. Agent Snapshot will allow us to connect consumers directly to our members, ultimately driving new business, new profits and new growth.

Through this tool, which is accessed from Agent Universe, Vacation.com members are able to convey much more than just their agency’s general specialties and destination expertise. This new innovation provides them with a unique opportunity to personally and electronically introduce themselves, their travel experiences, their skills, their locale, and their passions that count for potential clients.

3. What fams and events can Vacation.com agents look forward to in 2015?

James: We hosted a number of exclusive fams and incentive trips in 2014 which all proved to be very successful and beneficial to both our members and partners alike. Such events allow Vacation.com as well as our partner representatives to fully engage with our agents for the entire duration of the program.

The feedback we’ve received from both parties have been overwhelmingly positive, therefore a number of similar events in the works for 2015.

We also hosted our first Elite Event onboard a Viking Danube Cruise last March recognizing our top producing members across North America. Additionally we saw record turnouts by our Canadian membership at our International Conference in Vegas with over 188 agents in attendance.

Last but not least we hosted 511 agents at our Fall Regionals over the four events across the county, far outpacing our prior year attendance of 440! Overall, we’ve enjoyed unprecedented success at all our events throughout the year.

4. What sort of sales growth have you seen with your Key Partners?

James: Last year was without question one of our best years in terms of growth. We saw healthy double-digit growth in the mass market arena and the future sales for 2015 are looking just as strong or better. The growth within both river cruising and European touring continues to outperform prior years in spite of the high costs of trans-Atlantic airfares.

5. An agent is interested in joining a travel marketing organization. What are three compelling reasons for that agent to make the jump to Vacation.com?

James: Vacation.com is the leading travel marketing organization in North America with over 5,600 member agencies. There’s no question that gives us commanding buying power which clearly is a direct benefit to prospects. We offer our members leading-edge marketing and business solution tools which we continue to enhance and improve in order to drive business to our agents. That said, I believe our overriding appeal to prospective members is that whether you’re a large multi-branch agency, a host model, a traditional stand-alone bricks-and-mortar or a home-based agent, Vacation.com has a home for you.