NEW YORK — Vacation.com and sister companies Travel Leaders Associates and Results! Travel are consolidating to form one organization – Travel Leaders Network – with close to 7,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
The group will include both franchise (Associate) and consortium (Member) affiliations and will be headed up by President Roger E. Block, CTC, formerly President of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. Block will report to John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group.
The move makes Travel Leaders Network the largest seller of luxury travel, cruises, river cruises and tours in the travel agency industry, comprised of more than one-third of North America’s leading travel agencies. The group has a combined annual sales volume of more than US$17 billion.
All of the participating agencies that previously belonged to either Travel Leaders Franchise Group (Travel Leaders Associates and Results! Travel) or Vacation.com will continue to be Members within Travel Leaders Network.
Existing Travel Leaders Associates will retain sole licensing rights for the exclusive use of the Travel Leaders brand name. All Members of both Results! Travel and Vacation.com will automatically become Members of Travel Leaders Network, while qualifying Members will be provided the option of becoming Travel Leaders Associates “to enjoy a heightened level of offerings”.
“We have long been recognized as a world-class organization, offering the industry’s most innovative and honored travel agency solutions. But as our industry’s landscape continues to evolve and consolidate, so must we. Simply put, we must come together to create one powerful force that helps each of our agencies compete even more effectively for the hearts and minds of the traveling public,” said Lovell. “Our focus must be on delivering an even greater return on our agency constituents’ ever-changing needs. Rather than competing with each other, we must remove the barriers behind the scenes within our three businesses so the agencies we serve can more effectively compete both within and beyond the traditional travel agency space. As we further sharpen our focus and value proposition, we’re removing any prevailing brand confusion about who we are within the marketplace.”
“As we embark on solidifying our place as the agency industry’s ‘best in class’ organization, all of the agencies already onboard can expect increased benefits along with a clear vision for the future. On the technology side alone, our combined investments in the millions of dollars per annum will allow us to finely tune our focus on selling the value of our agents in the marketplace,” added Block. “Bringing these three powerhouse brands into the broader Travel Leaders Network translates into unparalleled cohesive strength as we work within the greater travel industry, accelerated growth for our agencies, heightened technological and marketing capabilities, and elimination of duplicate efforts from our combined leadership and support staff, who can now focus entirely on delivering the leading-edge innovations for which we’re celebrated.”
Stephen McGillivray, Chief Marketing Officer for Travel Leaders Group said the marketing staff across Travel Leaders Group has been operating as a singular team for several years. “Our team looks forward to collaborating even more closely with our supplier partners executing customer-generating marketing that will benefit our Travel Leaders Network agencies and their more than 35,000 travel agents,” he said.
The new Travel Leaders Network will continue to offer varying levels of participation. Apart from the combined organization’s new name, participating agencies will see few changes before 2017. Major changes include:
- Agent Profiler – By 2017, bios from all qualifying agents from Results! Travel and Vacation.com will be added to travelleaders.com’s existing Agent Profiler directory, thus further elevating the award-winning program’s search engine optimization (SEO) for every participating agent. The greater SEO value enables Travel Leaders Network to be better positioned to take on external competition.
- Annual Conference – Beginning in 2017, Travel Leaders Network will convene an ‘overlapping’ convention in which Travel Leaders Associates will share their final day with the first day for Members from the rest of Travel Leaders Network. Associates and Members of Travel Leaders Network will continue to take part in separate sets of sessions, training and networking events tailored for their specific needs.
- Marketing – While Travel Leaders Associates will continue to receive marketing specifically branded for their needs, the blended marketing team will be more focused on providing “innovative solutions and additional marketing publications designed to break through”, more effectively competing with forces beyond the traditional travel agency space.
- Technology Access – Based on participation agreements agents will have access to programs including CruisePRO, AgentMate and corporate business solutions.
- Agent Universe – By 2017 each of the existing agency extranets will migrate to one Agent Universe platform. Content will be delineated based on individual agency participation agreements.