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Air, Business Travel Sales Essential to AgentsNovember 5, 2010 By: George Dooley
Armed with new proprietary technologies, air agreements with both Delta and United, and strong growth in business travel accounts, Travel Leaders Franchise Group (TLFG) is well positioned to prosper in 2011, Roger Block, president of the group reports.
Block cited the attendance of 600 plus Travel Leaders agents at the National Convention underway in Kissimmee, FL as one indicator. Another is 90 plus suppliers participating in the scheduled trade show.
Another reason for Block’s optimism is the growth in business travel sales as TLFG franchise agents expand the range of their services to businesses – primarily companies with revenues of $10 to $15 million or less. “This segment offers real opportunities for us and our agents to deliver value. It also helps even out some of the peaks and valleys typical of leisure sales,” he said.
Block’s optimism is also buttressed by new enhancements to TLFG’s proprietary Envision business travel program. The new tools unveiled to Travel Leaders agents at the meeting include customizable templates for both strategic account review and pricing.
Participating agents – about 60 percent of TLFG’s volume is business- are now using and tailoring the tools to the specific needs of each individual business client.
Block said that growing numbers of Travel Leaders member agencies are increasing their service levels and expertise in catering to business travelers. They are also benefiting from intensive training programs that help the members use the tools available. The goal: use proprietary tools and TLFG’s expertise to attract, win and retain business accounts.
Block said that during the last quarter, 77 percent of all new business travel account wins reported by Travel Leaders members were directly attributable to their participation in Envision – including hands on support and training by TLFG’s staff.
“The traction that our business travel programs are having enables Travel Leaders of all sizes to confidently woo and win new business. Our proprietary pricing template ensures a win for both client and agency. By using our strategic account review templates, Travel Leaders are strengthening their bond with clients that leads to an enhanced relationship and retention,” Block said.
Peter Thomson, TLFG’s vice president who overseas the Envision tools, noted that two templates - account review and pricing - have been well received by clients and help agents establish the value of their services.
Targeted directly at senior “C” level executives, Travel Leaders’ proprietary strategic account review templates are designed to stimulate discussion with clients and build a path for future program enhancement.
“This is not a data dump These templates allow Travel Leaders members to serve as true consultants by pinpointing savings and cost savings,” Block explained.
By offering observations on past performance that’s buttressed with recommendations for the future, participating Travel Leaders agents are articulating and quantifying the bottom line value they’re providing to each business client, Block said.
Travel Leaders’ proprietary pricing templates allows members to analyze their cost per transaction and agent productivity. “We can automatically calculate estimated net income, income per transaction and income as a percent of air and our agents of any size can easily model multiple scenarios depending upon their business clients needs, Thomson said. “By seamlessly incorporating both online and offline scenarios and pricing, our members are better able to determine whether transaction fees, management fees, service fees or a combination are best suited to each particular client.” There are hundreds of templates in the system.
Commenting on the importance of Travel Leaders airline deals, Block said that travel agents who do not handle air sales are missing out on a potentially lucrative part of the agency business mix. “Travel Leaders can deliver profitable business that our airline partners want. There are synergies in air, car, hotel and tour sales that are vital for agents.”
He also praised the synergies of Travel Leaders Corporate – a sister company – for its support of business sales.
Block said that Travel Leaders wholly-owned and associate (franchised) locations have won over $88 million in new business accounts for the year through the end of the third quarter. This includes $27.5 million in new business travel accounts from July 1 – September 30, 2010.
Block also reported that TLFG will move aggressively on the leisure side of the equation, including new hotel programs that Block sees holding sales potential for member agents.
“TLFG provides strong support -including education and training, marketing, operations and management – across the board that builds strong agency’s with many options on how to grow their business,” Block said.
Block said Travel Leaders is currently preparing its 2011 Business Travel Forecast that will soon be available for Travel Leaders members.