TORONTO — Just how far will Trevello go to ensure its travel advisors’ success? It’s redirecting profits from its own pocket so that advisors can earn more starting in January 2023.
The company, led by President and CEO Zeina Gedeon, announced a brand new commission model at last night’s Partner Launch Event at The Rec Room in Mississauga. The model, which Gedeon said is the most innovative in today’s market, includes more commission levels and more choice, allowing travel advisors to earn 100% commission on any product they sell. Moreover, starting in 2023, travel advisors will be able to pick and choose the benefits or services that Trevello offers, allowing for more customization and earning opportunities.
Speaking with Travelweek, Gedeon said that although this new model will mean less profit for the company overall, the long-term goal of ensuring their advisors’ success far outweighs the short-term losses.
“Everything we do is based on feedback from our advisors. Obviously, we always try to innovate, but it’s all based on their needs after meeting with them one on one and during our many town halls. Anything our advisors mentioned that they didn’t like, we made sure to address,” said Gedeon.
“Before this new model, our advisors were stuck. It used to be, “This is our product, this is what you get.” For 2023, we’re giving them the choice. They get to pick and choose what they want. Now we’re saying, ‘This is the product but you get a choice of what services you want,’ versus ‘This is what we offer and you’re out of luck if you don’t want it,” she added.
Last night’s news comes at a time of real recovery for Trevello, which according to Gedeon, has seen a 5% increase in sales this year over 2019, the company’s best-ever year. Commissions are also up 9% over 2019, with the average booking increasing from $1,100 to $1,900. Business has been so good, in fact, that Gedeon referenced a travel advisor who’s making over $700,000 in commission alone. “And that’s based on our old commission model!” she noted.
In addition to the new commission program, Trevello has been working on a wide array of innovations throughout the pandemic, all of which will help it maintain its trajectory of growth, said Gedeon.
NEW PREFERRED SUPPLIER PROGRAM
Also launching in 2023 is a new preferred supplier program called Strategic Partner Program (SPP), which will help travel advisors earn an extra 2%-3% commission at source when booking with preferred partners. There are five main criteria in order to be a strategic partner: source commission percentage; performance score; review score; marketing support; and override support.
“This program is being implemented for directional selling, making sure we’re working with our core supplier partners to make sure they get the sales they need, that we get the sales we need, and that advisors get paid,” said Sneha Varghese, Trevello’s Director, Marketing Partnerships & Events.
Many of Trevello’s top partners attended last night’s event, a testament to Trevello’s longstanding relationships in the industry.
“I want to say thank you because I know everybody’s going through terrible times, whether it’s suppliers or ourselves. We always like to say thank you to our partners and also explain to them what we’re planning on doing for the next year because we have big plans,” Gedeon told Travelweek.
NEW CRUISE PROGRAM
Caroline Hay, president and CEO of Cruise CEO, the cruise-centric host agency launched in 2021 and backed by what was then known as TPI (Trevello’s former name), made the exciting announcement last night that the agency will be moving forward with cruise as a product line under the Trevello Travel Group.
“What this means is, regardless of the brand an advisor is affiliated with, whether they’re Trevello or Cruise CEO, they will all now have full access to a comprehensive cruise strategy to make sure that we are working towards growing our business overall,” said Hay.
Noting the steady incline in cruise business (“In March 2019, 12.9% of our overall sales was in the cruise business, while year-to-date we’re trending at about 15.9%”), Hay said the team is confident that the cruise industry is set to boom. When it does, Trevello will be ready.
“We want to be recognized as the partner in the Canadian market that has a full comprehensive program to give our advisors the opportunities to be recognized as a major cruise seller in the Canadian space and, ultimately, North America,” said Hay.
How does Trevello plan on achieving this? Through new technology tools, a full training program, quarterly cruise campaigns and working on headquarter groups and partners with Virtuoso. Other initiatives include a new ‘Seasational’ newsletter that’s sent out to members every week, virtual training sessions every Wednesday, exclusive seminars at sea focusing on New-to-Cruise, Experienced Cruise, and River/Luxury Cruise, a program in summer 2023 called Cruise-Fest that will include ship inspections with cruise partners and partner training sessions, as well as a comprehensive marketing program that includes e-marketing, virtual consumer events, Facebook marketing posts, a semi-annual cruise catalogue called Spotlight Journeys.
NEW SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM & LEAD GENERATION PROGRAM
In keeping with new marketing efforts, Varghese also announced that Trevello will be launching a new social media platform for travel advisors, providing more ease and customization.
“We have never marketed directly to consumers, our goal is to have everything go through the advisor,” said Varghese. “This new platform will allow them to get a much more robust analytics preview on posts, customize their posts rather than a cut-and-paste copy content that goes on their pages. They will have the ability to customize it however they want because we encourage our advisors to push out their own brand.”
Also noteworthy is a new lead generation ad program designed to bring more leads to advisors and, at the same time, increase exposure for Trevello’s strategic partners.
“It’s a two-way street where we are hoping to help advisors by bringing them more leads, and also help our supplier partners by bringing them more exposure,” said Varghese. “The work will be done by us, but it will be done on behalf of our suppliers to make the sale.”
5-PHASE GROWTH STRATEGY
When asked by Travelweek the reason for Trevello’s name change earlier this year, Gedeon said the evolution from TPI to Trevello Travel Group was part of a five-phase approach to growth. Phase One was the rebrand and name change, which according to Gedeon, “took forever to decide” as a team.
“In the last five years, I’ll be the first to say that we lost our position at the forefront of host. So we needed to change, to move to the next level,” said Gedeon. “If you look at the meaning of Trevello, it really means empowered entrepreneurship. TPI was a great name for its time, but now we need to be much bigger and broader.”
Phase Two is the new commission model that was announced last night, while Phase Three will involve a complete upheaval of backend systems later this year. This includes changing the company’s databases and improving its customer service with the addition of eight new customer service reps in the last four weeks, plus eight more in the pipeline.
Phase Four will see Trevello’s expansion into the United States. According to Gedeon, the company has just begun its licencing and has set its sights on Q1 in 2023 for launch.
“We’re getting so many calls from people in the U.S. wanting to join us. We already have a recruiter to hire a president for the U.S. so we’re very serious about our growth,” she said.
As for the fifth and final phase? Details are being kept under wraps – for now.
For more of our interview with Gedeon, including her thoughts on current challenges for travel advisors and her forecast for 2023, look for tomorrow’s Travelweek Daily.