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Signature Reports Record Year and New InitiativesSeptember 22, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Signature Travel Network reports membership has grown significantly with 18 new members and 30 new locations in 2011, totaling 202 members with 375 locations across the network. Signature now covers 38 states in the U.S. and 4 provinces in Canada, and continues to target high volume cruise and tour sellers interested in leveraging Signature's technology and marketing tools, according to Michelle Morgan, president of Signature
Morgan announced Signature's record year of achievements during Signature's annual Owners' Meeting at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes, Orlando, Florida. The September 14-17th meeting included more than 300 attendees, representing nearly 80 percent of all Signature members as well as key executives from supplier partners.
Significantly, Morgan also revealed the results of a recent survey of Signature members who reported a 19 percent year on year revenue growth. Members also cited the biggest opportunities for business moving forward: groups, multi-generational travel, baby boomers retiring, the "let's just travel" attitude, and social media prospects.
During the Owners' Meeting's general session Signature's also revealed key initiatives for 2012:
• Alex Sharpe, executive vice president, announced a new recruitment plan, which will allow Signature members to participate in a centralized recruitment and matching program for independent contractors, set to begin in Q1 2012.
• Michael von Wittenau, vice president of business development, discussed the expanded Food Network Travel program available to consumers exclusively through Signature members. Food Network Travel is introducing new guided vacations operated by Trafalgar to France, Italy and Northern California with more than 20 departures. The first guided vacation commences May 10, 2012. Additionally, Food Network at Sea will include expanded cruise departures for 2012.
• Karen Yeates, vice president of technology, announced the launch of The Pocket Travel Consultant, a mobile app for clients that includes thousands of pages of destination content, as well as trip planning resources for members to use with their clients.
• Karryn Christopher, vice president of marketing, announced that 2012 will be the year of customer experience management for marketing services. Signature is focusing on assisting existing members via a repertoire of prospecting resources and tools, including an expanded Travel Magazine. Christopher also announced an interactive new web-based publication, entitled The Travel Experience, viewable on either a tablet or PC. The first edition will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2011.
• Ignacio Maza, executive vice president, revealed an expanded Hotels & Resorts program with even more consumer privileges and announced a new and expanded Hotel Guide in the months to come. Maza also reported a compelling new Flash Sales program that will include proprietary product designed primarily for the hotel segment of the market. This will be launched next year.
• Gina Weyer, vice president of member services & training, discussed enhanced training for front line sales personnel, commencing with a two-day, ten-city blitz in the spring of 2012. Training will include telephone skills (still a high percentage of client interaction), service skills (delivering exceptional service) and utilizing Signature's marketing tools.
"Signature's focus in 2012 will be to concentrate on implementation, training and helping members exploit Signature's existing arsenal of tools," said Morgan. Alex Sharpe, executive vice president added, "We truly feel like we have the tools and programs in place to assist our members in not only growing their business, but enhancing their margins."
Industry leaders and special guests included Ed Fouché, SVP, travel industry sales for the Americas, Disney Destinations, Tony Gonchar, CEO, ASTA and Rose A. Haché, Esq., travel industry attorney.
Signature Travel is a member-owned, travel cooperative, headquartered in Marina Del Rey, California, with a regional office in New York City. The network was established in 1956 and today includes 202 member agencies with 375 retail locations throughout U.S. and Canada. Collectively, Signature members generate over $5 billion in annual travel sales.