“The best is yet to come”: Travel Leaders Group’s EDGE 2021 conference captures travel’s forward momentum
Travel Leaders Network President Roger Block (left) and Travel Leaders Group President John Lovell (right) at EDGE 2021in Orlando

“The best is yet to come”: Travel Leaders Group’s EDGE 2021 captures travel’s forward momentum

ORLANDO — After more than a year and a half of the pandemic, and a very tough road for the travel industry, “the ships are back in the water, planes are in the air, and people are travelling again,” says Travel Leaders Group President John Lovell.

“The best is yet to come”: Travel Leaders Group’s EDGE 2021 conference captures travel’s forward momentum

Headlining a hybrid in-person / videoconference edition of the annual press conference at Travel Leaders Network’s EDGE conference, taking place this week at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, Lovell said the energy at the event is palpable, and so is the optimism.

“The business is coming back, you can feel it,” he said. “We’ve all made it. We’re on the other side of this thing, we survived and we’re going to move on. I’m very encouraged for the future. I think the best is yet to come.”

More than 1,400 travel advisors, suppliers and other industry partners registered for EDGE. It’s the first live and in person EDGE since May 2019.

Travel Leaders Group’s stats estimate a return to 2019-type numbers not next year, but the year after. “I think we’ll get back to true full strength sometime in 2023,” said Lovell, adding “2023 could be a stellar year for all of us.”

In Canada there are now more than 700 TL Network members, says Christine James, Vice President of TL Network Canada. Some 38 members have joined since the start of 2021.

Effective Nov. 1 that will include The Travel Agent Next Door. Earlier this week TTAND announced that it was joining TL Network. TTAND was formerly with Ensemble.

DISTINCTIVE VOYAGES’ RETURN TO THE SEAS

Yesterday’s EDGE update included news that Travel Leaders Network’s popular Distinctive Voyages Hosted cruise program is returning to the seas, with some new additions.

“Cruise ships are back in the water, and travelers couldn’t be more delighted,” says Roger Block, President of Travel Leaders Network. “Travel advisors also have unprecedented opportunity to sell cruises, but there is a lot of noise in the marketplace. Distinctive Voyages gives them a can’t-get-it-anywhere-else opportunity to sell to their clients. It turns a cruise into an elevated river or ocean vacation.”

Distinctive Voyages’ first sailing since the pandemic departed Sept. 26, 2021, and 19 Distinctive Voyages sailings are scheduled before the end of the year. Passengers on these cruises will have a host, receive a shipboard credit and be given a bon voyage bottle of wine in lieu of a welcome reception due to social distancing regulations. In 2022 and 2023, there will be 578 Distinctive Voyages going to 30 countries and 47 ports of call.

Distinctive Voyages’ cruise partners include: AmaWaterways; Azamara; Celebrity Cruises; Crystal Cruises; Cunard Line; Holland America Line; Oceania Cruises; Princess Cruises; Regent Seven Seas Cruises; Seabourn; Silversea Cruises; and Windstar Cruises.

In 2022, Distinctive Voyages’ popular Private Car and Driver option will be offered on 16 Distinctive Voyages sailings.

Travel Leaders Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stephen McGillvray, noted that in addition to Distinctive Voyages, Travel Leaders Group’s cruise program also includes Amenity Departures, and the Culinary Collection. There are currently 5,544 Amenity Departures planned into 2024, with 17 preferred partners. The Culinary Collection meanwhile has 139 departures on the books into 2023, with a wide range of offers including Chef’s Table experiences, wine tastings, galley tours, specialty dining and more.

AGENT PROFILER UPDATE

McGillvray also outlined enhancements to Travel Leaders Network’s lead generation program, Agent Profiler.

For the first time ever, Travel Leaders Network is allowing Agent Profiler advisors to turn off leads temporarily. This allows the advisor to take time off without having to worry about a backlog of leads. The advisor’s profile will remain up, although they will not be able to be called, and users will see a customizable note that they are not open to new leads at the moment.

Agent Profiler now offers a remote agent locator, allowing a travel advisor to update their location from wherever they are currently working. Agent Profiler also offers an easy video appointment booker, requested by both travelers and travel advisors to accommodate social distancing measures and busy schedules. Agent Profiler will also host the video visit.

Advisors on Agent Profiler can now also list the number of years they have been a travel advisor. And if an advisor has completed Travel Leaders Network’s Book With Confidence program, a badge is added to their profile to let users know they are experts in traveling safely in this COVID-19.

For independent advisors, Agent Profiler will display the agency name on search results, along with their host agency.

“Agent Profiler is one of the flagship tools we offer our members,” said Block. “It is a powerful way of generating leads, and we are thrilled to offer these enhancements to our advisors. Whether they use one or all of the new features, our advisors can leverage Agent Profiler to build their brand and help bring in new business.”

In 2021 Agent Profiler delivered more than 150,000 leads to advisors. Leads are fuelled by Travel Leaders Group’s B2C site in the U.S., TravelLeaders.com, and in Canada, CanadianTravelAgents.ca.