TL Network says it is “changing the dynamics for how agents can sell travel” with its new consumer-facing Vacation website. The group says Vacation is aimed at initiating conversations with consumers who want to travel, but aren’t necessarily thinking of using a travel agent – yet.
“When we brought our three agency groups together earlier this year, we did so with the realization that the dormant Vacation.com URL was far too valuable to simply allow it to go away,” said John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network, Leisure Group and Hotel Division. Vacation.com has been “transformed” into a consumer brand source of travel product and expert information, he said.
With more than 1 billion websites on the Internet – a 33 million percent increase in just over two decades – cutting through the clutter to get their website front and centre with consumers has become the obsessive mission of every company. TL Network, with its stake in one of the most coveted URLs in the travel industry, is determined to leverage its Vacation.com domain.
The TL Network debuted the site, launching this spring, at the Travel Leaders 2017 International Conference in Orlando.
Called Vacation, the site uses the Vacation.com URL and will initially focus on honeymoon and destination wedding product. Close to 1,900 Travel Leaders network agents specialize in honeymoon travel, and another 1,250 specialize in destination weddings, making the two categories among the most popular on TravelLeaders.com.
Members from Travel Leaders Network (including TL Network Canada) will be the first Travel Leaders Group agents invited to participate. Eventually Vacation will expand to other lifestyle specializations and other Travel Leaders Group agents will be invited to qualify.
The new site isn’t meant to replace the group’s Agent Profiler program.
“Our Travel Leaders Network Members have already enjoyed overwhelming success by participating in our very own Agent Profiler program, which continues to be enhanced,” says Lovell.
Vacation is aimed at qualified prospects who may never have considered using a travel agent before, he says. “[It] provides a radically innovative approach for qualified participants to have skin in the game.”
The site uses ‘Perpetual Demand Generation’, creating a constant flow of leads by always being ‘on’, said Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko, CTC. Chacko says the engagement will be personalized and specifically targeted to each user to avoid a mass-market approach.
The site tracks each consumer from the moment they first visit the site through a closed sale. Vacation’s agents get detailed background on their leads including where and when prospective customers want to travel, a history of content they consumed along with their answers to Vacation’s online quizzes, and their preferred planning style.
Qualifying agents will also be given tools to help close sales. They also have access to a virtual sales assistant that Travel Leaders Group has developed to schedule follow-up contact.
More than 140 TL Network Canada members – formerly Vacation.com Canada members – made the trip to Orlando for the Travel Leaders 2017 International Conference. It was the first conference since the Jan. 1, 2017 consolidation when The TL Network became the largest seller of luxury travel, cruises, river cruises and tours in the travel agency industry, with more than one-third of North America’s leading travel agencies with over $22 billion in annual sales volume.
TL Network Canada is intent on expanding its reach, with the addition of 41 new members agencies last year, plus another 12 new agencies in the first month of 2017. Year-to-date booking trends for the Canadian network of agencies are up, says TL Network Canada VP Christine James. “Caribbean and Mexico are outpacing last year. Europe is also ahead of last year.”
Bookings via CanadianTravelAgents.ca, TL Network Canada’s mobile-enabled website, are also strong, says James. “We’ve delivered over 2,000 leads year-to-date to our members who have their profiles posted on the website. The new URL is driving more traffic.”
One major advantage is that when a consumer goes to CanadianTravelAgents.ca, “only Canadian agents are being featured versus the old website that featured both U.S. and Canadian agents,” says James.
TL Network Canada members can post their contact details and specialties on CanadianTravelAgents.ca as part of TL Network’s Agent Profiler lead generation tool.
Deanna Byrne, President, The Destination Experts says that while she’s focused on promoting Agent Profiler 2.0 to her team of agents, the new Vacation.com URL “will be leading edge in terms of lead generation online”, noting TL Network has invested heavily into the platform.
Both Byrne and Nexion Canada’s Mike Foster were on hand at the Travel Leaders Network conference. The Destination Experts took home a 2017 President’s Award, while Nexion Canada, represented by Foster, won the 2017 Chairman’s Host Award.
Foster says the consolidation and the name change were a win-win for TL Network Canada members. “In my view the largest benefit of several is that it has both allowed TL Network to be able to consolidate the tremendous buying power of the entire organization, and at the same time free up the Vacation.com brand to use in the terrific lead-generating initiative.”