Travel Edge, which specializes in Leisure, Corporate & Events, and Tours travel, is booming, with a value of $750 million in just 10 years. Its Leisure division has 10 offices in Canada, the U.S. and Bermuda, its Corporate & Events division has 100 planners, while its Tours division, led by 150 experts, is experiencing double-digit growth each year. How does the company stay ahead of the curve? Through experience, pre-planning and industry-leading technology. In this week’s edition of Friday Five, we chat with Cheryl Nicholson, EVP, Leisure, about current industry trends, the importance of technology, and what those new to the industry need to know.
1. What are some of the current trends that you are seeing within the industry?
We’ve noticed that more and more people are choosing travel as a second career. We have seen a growth in the number of advisors who have entered the travel industry from other professional careers, including former attorneys, doctors and business owners and some of these advisors are now in our top tier. This is why investing in technology and professional development is important to us as it allows us to support this growing demographic to become more successful.
We’ve also seen a shift in focus on the luxury consumer in Canada. More of our peers and supplier partners are expanding into the luxury market, which is very encouraging as this has always been a part of our core offering at Travel Edge.
Lastly, social media is being used by advisors to increase engagement and build brand awareness. So many travel advisors are enhancing their marketing through social media channels and are investing their time building awareness and engaging with clients. Because of this trend, we are now investing in a social sharing platform that will help advisors build their social presence by providing them with curated content that can be easily shared with clients, helping them to be more efficient in branding and client engagement.
2. What is your advice for new-to-industry advisors?
Network! Participate in as many industry networking opportunities as possible. The only way to get 20 years of experience is through 20 years of experience. However, meeting with other travel professionals can help grow your knowledge faster.
In addition to having the critical product knowledge of what you’re selling, find a mentor that can help you understand the business financials so that you can understand how you can make money by selling travel. Recognizing that client satisfaction should be the first priority when selecting product, we also know that working with preferred suppliers can help improve profitability. We’ve recently launched a formal Mentoring Program that invests in both mentors and mentees because we’ve seen that businesses grow faster with experienced mentors.
3. What are some of the things agents should be asking a prospective host agency before they join?
Compensation should not be the only determining factor when selecting a host agency, however, it’s important to understand the fine print of any split arrangements or fees.
Be sure to ask whether the agency offers any other benefits, such as support for attending industry events or subsidies for any office space. Also, how are benefits distributed to advisors?
In terms of technology and training, find out what forms of technology support are provided. Are there written commitments? Think of all the technology you might need access to including email, GDS or other software. And remember to ask whether there are training or other professional development opportunities available.
4. Travel Edge is committed to the success of all its agents, as seen in its Succession Planning strategy. Can you tell us about it, and why Succession Planning is important to all advisors and ICs?
Succession Planning is a great opportunity for advisors who are considering retirement to continue to receive income and stay involved in the industry. It creates an opportunity for advisors to grow their businesses with little investment, while it also benefits clients by allowing them to continue to plan travel with a trusted professional.
5. Technology plays a huge role in an agent’s daily operations. How does Travel Edge maintain a competitive edge in this field, and what technological tools do you employ to better serve agents?
At Travel Edge we’ve developed our own proprietary booking platform called Agent Digital Experience (ADX), which helps our advisors save time. They can search, quote, book, invoice and update their bookings all in one place. It also integrates over 20 travel platforms, allowing them to search and quote cruise, air itineraries, hotel, insurance, activities and transportation. As well, the commissions and amenities are calculated and shown upfront, making it a very easy-to-use system.
By using the ADX platform, our advisors have more time to deepen their relationships with their clients, grow their businesses and make more commission, which helps maintain our competitive edge within this field.
For more information go to traveledge.com.