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New Nexion GM on Agents' Changing RoleApril 16, 2007 By: Mackenzie Allison Travel Agent
A one-on-one with industry veteran Jackie Friedman
Jackie Friedman, the new general manger of host agency
Nexion, recently discussed with Travel Agent how home-based agents'
roles are morphing and what her company is looking for in its members.
Friedman's travel industry experience spans more than 23
years and includes work with both corporate and leisure travel agencies in
Most recently, she served as Nexion's vice president operations and business
Friedman notes changes she has seen in the industry and how
Nexion is maintaining its success and offering agents more programs.
The Evolving Home-Based Agent
Friedman says that she sees home-based travel agents
evolving in two ways. "It's interesting because going to a lot of trade
shows, I see that people are coming from a lot of different industries and
turning travel into their second career. They are coming in as specialists and
bringing business skills, which are important...[Travel planning] is geared more
towards customer segmentation instead of destination," Friedman says. One
agent she has met, for example, works with recovering alcoholics. Another
focuses on religious groups and another develops programs for a scrapbooking
Secondly, Friedman says that she has noticed that a lot of
travel agents are also small business owners. "A lot of agents have worked
with restrictions, such as a nine-to-five job and now like the flexibility to
meet with customers and have that face-to-face interaction," Friedman
This kind of entrepreneurial agent is exactly what Nexion is
looking for—and they are doing their part to help them connect with more
Friedman says Nexion is very focused on its marketing and
sales programs. "The most important skill to have is being able to market.
Once they get the client, they have to have the sales ability. Third, they have
to have the travel knowledge and knowledge of the product or research it later
so as to find the right solution. The secret to their success is getting out
Getting out there involves going to the places your targeted
customers are likely to gather. If the customer segment you are targeting is
golfers, be visible at country clubs. If it is religious groups, network at
During the past two years, Nexion has more than doubled its
membership to more than 2,100 independent travel professionals. It has
implemented programs that both help agents and aide in Nexion's success.
"We are looking for serious folks who want to extend their business. We
have innovative marketing programs to help them wow clients," Friedman
What's New at Nexion
In March, Nexion hosted a "boot camp," which
focused training on sales, marketing and desktop tools as well as giving agents
insight into the business. Because more and more agents don't want to deal with
airline ticketing, last month Nexion started a full-service ticketing desk.
A change to the commission process is also in development.
Instead of once a month, agents will be able to get direct deposit into their
accounts twice a month. In September, Nexion is launching its first CoNexion
Live conference, which connects agents with other agents, suppliers and Nexion