TORONTO — Travel agents have never worked harder than they have throughout the pandemic – and that’s 19 months and counting on top of decades of expertise and service for many experienced advisors in this industry.
So maybe it’s the perfect time for the launch of a new travel advisor recognition program.
Called ‘The 1000’, the program is launching today with applications available free to travel agents around the world until Nov. 5, 2021, at www.the1000.club.
Tim Morgan, well-known in the Canadian travel industry from his work with TPI, Virtuoso and more, is a co-founder of The 1000, along with Jeff Sirota, formerly with Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
The 1000 is a club for the world’s most influential travel advisors, with an industry-first plan to build the only community of wholly-verified, top producing travel advisors from every corner of the world, across all travel product types and budgets, say Morgan and Sirota.
The 1000 is designed to complement a travel advisor’s existing agency or consortia relationship.
Morgan and Sirota add that The 1000’s recognition platform gives all advisors the ability to understand how their sales success likely compares to others in their local area, country, and world. Once verified by The 1000, the idea is that advisors can use this recognition to enhance their marketing to new and existing clients and supplier partners.
The 1000’s Club Board includes Ulla Heffel Bohler, CEO, Insight Vacations & Luxury Gold, Chris Austin, CSO, Explora Journeys, Filip Boyen, CEO, Forbes Travel Guide and more. The program was developed with assistance from a global travel advisor committee.
“As a new travel industry emerges beyond the pandemic, it is more important than ever that advisors understand how powerful their influence is and that they are receiving recognition that is relevant to them, their clients, and their supplier relationships,” says Morgan. “We are entering a new era that requires a new approach.”
Travelweek wanted to know more, so we caught up with Morgan this morning for a Q&A …
Q. What are some of the rewards / benefits / incentives for agents that join The 1000?
Morgan: “The most important benefit of what we’re doing is recognition. Advisors work incredibly hard and they deserve to be recognized, no matter what type of travel product they sell. With this recognition in hand, advisors will benefit from doors opening from their marketing efforts to their supplier relationships to their network of knowledge and influence growing among their peer group of similarly-positioned travel advisors around the world. Rather than tell members of The 1000 what we think their benefits should be, we’re going to work closely with them over the next few months to put together a program that aligns with their needs and goals.”
Q. Is this a group of agents that sell luxury, or top sellers in across all categories?
Morgan: “All advisors across all categories are invited to apply. Luxury, premium, budget, corporate, travel, cruise, air – you name it.”
Q. Can you spell out how this will impact agents’ marketing efforts?
Morgan: “Travel advising is a profession that deserves recognition just like any other profession. Any badge, certification, or accreditation that an advisor can add to their arsenal in marketing themselves to current and prospective clients and industry partners will ultimately help them achieve their goals.”
Q. Are you currently working with any of the agency groups?
Morgan: “We are not currently working with any agency or consortia groups, however are open to discussions. The more industry partners that recognize the importance of understanding each individual advisors’ needs, the better.”
Q. What feedback are you hearing from retail groups and consortiums about The 1000?
Morgan: “It is early days but both in our validation work on the program and in the feedback we’ve received since launch, the feedback from across the industry has been positive, including from agency owners and groups. Our industry is built on the strength of the whole and every piece of feedback we’ve received thus far is that we are filling a void that needs to be filled.”
Q. Will membership be capped at 1,000 or is that more just for the branding?
Morgan: “We plan to expand the numbers based on the needs of the membership. The important part for us right now is to bring together a membership of like-minded travel advisors who are interested in shaping the future of the travel advisor community.”
Q. Who will be vetting the advisors’ applications and determining the membership?Are there concerns the process could be too subjective? Is membership based on annual sales, and if yes, could that shut out some excellent advisors in smaller markets who offer great customer service but may not be able to compete on a dollar-for-dollar sales basis with other advisors in larger markets?
Morgan: “Vetting of applications is purely based on sales production which we will verify with suppliers. We understand that every travel advisor approaches their business differently and that’s why we built our recognition calculator – the first step of the application form – to help them understand that they are valuable, no matter where they live, what type of travel they sell, or what type of sales they have. There is a place for everyone in this industry who believes in the professionalism of the travel advisor and we’re kicking off that program with the launch of The 1000 today.”
Q. Will there be distribution of membership across all countries?
Morgan: “Membership is open to travel advisors from all across the world. Travel is inherently global and the travel advisor profession is important in every corner of the globe.”
Q. It’s great that the application process is free for advisors. Once an advisor gets membership, what fees are involved if any?
Morgan: “It is free to apply to The 1000 and recognition itself will also be complimentary. We don’t believe in ‘pay-to-play’ when it comes to providing a recognition award as an advisor has already shown their value and worth through their sales production – they’re already earned it, in our eyes. We only plan to charge an optional fee starting in March 2022 for other program attributes that may warrant it, should an advisor choose to participate in them.”
Q. What’s your message for travel advisors?
Morgan: “Advisors need to know that they are relevant – not just to their clients and to suppliers but to a healthy industry – and that they need to work with industry partners who understand and amplify their relevancy.”