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Signature President Michelle Morgan, This Year's Travel Partner of the YearDecember 4, 2006 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
Michelle Morgan, CTC, Signature Travel Network's president, is a tough woman to score an interview with. It's not because she isn't willing to spare time to chat with a reporter, but rather because the travel industry executive with 28 years of experience is overwhelmingly shy when talking about her personal success.
Morgan, who was selected as a Leader in Luxury for the Travel Partner of the Year category, was willing to face her fears and agreed to an interview with Travel Agent so long as one thing was understood: "This story shouldn't be about me; it should be about the success of the company," she says. "I don't usually do these things, because I hate talking about me. It's not about me, it's a team effort."
Morgan joined Signature Travel Network (formerly Leisure
Travel Group) in 1991. With a relatively small management staff, Morgan helped
take Signature from 35 locations to its current number of nearly 300. In the
past two years, Signature has seen its gross sales nearly double, from $1.2
billion to $2.2 billion.
She gives credit to her staff of more than 20 employees and
the five senior executives: Ellie Knight, director of training and agency
automation; Gina Weyer, vice president of member services; Filomena Andre, vice
president of sales and marketing; Karen Yeates, vice president of Internet
business solutions; and Morgan's friend of 10 years, Ignacio Mazza, executive
"It's all about finding the right people," she
says. "We have a dedicated group focused on all individual members,"
she says. "They all have a personal commitment to the company, as well as
a professional commitment."
Under Mazza, Signature's hotel guide has gone from including
about 100 hotels to its current 400 hotels in less than two years.
Other factors in Signature's growing success under Morgan
include the company's new products and services, expanded marketing programs,
the rolling out of new technology enhancements and the launching of new
Perhaps the company's most intriguing online tool is its
newly designed centralized database, in which nearly 1.5 million customer
profiles are available for all of Signature's members to view. The profiles are
segmented, that is, separated into specific categories of travel. For example,
Signature members can tell which clients are prime targets for luxury travel by
viewing their profiles. Signature is also working on adding every client's complete
transaction data to their profiles.
"We know there are some things [when operating a
network] we can influence and others we can't," Morgan says, "It all
starts with having a thorough knowledge of a client, their likes, their
dislikes and their dreams."
Morgan has been instrumental in framing the organization's
strategic direction, partnership development, marketing, technology and member
services programs, and especially takes pride in the fact that her company has
the lowest attrition rate of any network.
Prior to joining Signature, Morgan was a marketing executive
for Carlson Travel Network (Carlson Wagonlit Travel). She began her career in
the industry working for Ask Mr. Foster Travel Service, which was acquired by
Carlson in 1979.
Now, Morgan is celebrating her 15th year at Signature the
same year as Signature celebrates its 50th anniversary.
"We tell our members, 'It's not about us, it's about
you,'" Morgan says. "It's not about our brand, Signature, it's about
your brand, about helping you. We are all a team.'"
When asked how she felt about winning the honor, Morgan
says, "I wish I could get up there [on stage] and accept the award with
everyone I work with."