TORONTO — Some 77% of TL Network Canada (formerly Vacation.com Canada) members say they’re seeing equal or better forward bookings for 2017 compared to what they were seeing for 2016 at this time last year. More than eight in 10 say they’re optimistic for the coming year. The results are based on survey data from more than 100 TL Network Canada members.
TL Network Canada is part of the TL Network, which now has nearly 7,000 travel agencies and more than $22 billion in annual sales volume throughout North America.
This month saw the launch of CanadianTravelAgents.ca, TL Network Canada’s new mobile-friendly website. TL Network Canada members can post their contact details and specialties on the site as part of TL Network’s Agent Profiler lead generation tool.
With CanadianTravelAgents.ca “we’ve created a specific portal for Canadian consumers to connect with Canadian travel agents,” said Jose Ferreira, Chief Technology Officer for Travel Leaders Network & Leisure Group. With Agent Profiler, “we pushed more than 100,000 leads [in 2016] to members in Canada and the U.S. and the aggregate close rate on those leads is about 25%. We’ve created a $130 million lead flow channel for agents … we’re effectively handing millions and millions of dollars to our members.”
Adds Stephen McGillivray, Chief Marketing Officer, Travel Leaders Group, “For small to mid-size agencies, and most of our members are small to mid-size, one of the most expensive elements of their business is acquiring new customers.” Agent Profiler is designed to bring leads right to the agency’s doorstep. And “the stories that our members tell draw in those leads.”
Nearly 400 TL Network Canada Affiliate Members are currently displaying an agent profile, with more members being added daily. Consumers can click on links including Adventure Vacations, Beach Vacations, European Culture and Honeymoons to improve their connections with the most qualified travel agents, improving the quality of the leads.
As a group, TL Network is seeing an uptick in bookings from both Canadian and U.S. agencies. Roger Block, President, Travel Leaders Network, noted that Europe bookings are “notching upwards”. “River cruising is strong, Med cruising is up, escorted touring is up by double-digits,” said Block. “Alaska cruising is absolutely booming. We’re also seeing the Caribbean doing extremely well, even with the mild winter.”
TL Network Canada members saw a downturn in 2016 but not as significantly as in the U.S. Christine James, VP Canada – TL Network Canada, said Europe is up 50 to 75% over last year out of Canada: “We’re really pleased to see that turnaround.” Eastern Mexico is still the number one sun destination for TL Network Canada members, followed by Cuba and Las Vegas.
TL Network Canada members are also benefitting from the group’s certification courses, available for Cdn$329 each. More than 400 TL Network Canada members have registered for the courses since Jan. 9. The courses are available in four modules: Destination Weddings & Honeymoons (78 enrolled, 22 pending); Luxury Travel (60 enrolled, 15 pending); Leisure Travel (116 enrolled, 28 pending); and Active and Adventure (83 enrolled, 39 pending).
“If you present yourself as a specialist, you’re going to be ahead of the pack,” said James.
TL Network members are also taking advantage of the group’s Engagement marketing program including direct mailers and emails. Starting out with just 30 or so mailers at the program’s inception, last year it offered 140 and this year, 193. More suppliers are getting onboard with the Engagement marketing program because “suppliers see the value in it,” said McGillivray.
The TL Network’s 2017 International Conference is scheduled for May 1 – 5, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando in Florida.
For the first time TL Network Canada members (agency owners only) will also be able to participate in the 2017 International Summit, taking place in Auckland, NZ from March 17 – 19. With spots for 100 participants, there is still room for a few more, said Block. “We are pleased to now offer this exclusive, VIP opportunity to our TL Network Canada Afilliates,” said Block. “By extensively immersing our agency owners in our host destination, they will be able to provide dramatically enhanced guidance and in-depth counsel to their customers, particularly their luxury clientele.” See TLNetwork.ca.