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Analysis: Buyer Beware?

February 8, 2010 By: George Dooley
 


 

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Tripology Vet Speaks Out

 

 

Should travel agents develop their own sales leads or rely on a third party lead generating service? The recent demise of Tripology has raised questions about the most effective way for professional agents to generate leads, including costs and quality.

Jackie Friedman, general manger and president of Nexion, a major host agency, is cautious about third party lead generating services. “Many lead generation programs can be mixed blessings, especially if agents do not know how to work with them. “

“Those that were very selective in the types of leads they purchased tended to have better luck. Those that took a more general approach ended up investing more money and found that many of the leads were just price shopping for the lowest rates. Those agents were more frustrated,” Friedman says.

“Our focus is more on working with agents to generate their own leads and build their own business by working referrals and building a strong database based on the FRANK concept (friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and kids/klubs J.) We also advocate them getting involved in local networking groups to expand their horizons,” Friedman says. Nexion is part of Sabre-Holdings.

Brad Anderson, co-president of Americas Vacation Center, a major host agency, takes another approach: “Most travel agents today will tell you they are much better at selling travel than marketing for new customers. Today, you can be a professional seller of travel, but if you don’t have a lot of prospects and clients to sell to, the chances of making a great living selling travel is very low. Tripology provided a valuable service by selling leads to travel professionals; however in this economy it is increasingly more difficult and more expensive to generate prospects and new customers.”

Anderson says that AVC’s trade marked Live Leads program remains a powerful tool for AVC agents. “As a part of America’s Vacation Center’s unique Shared Success model, we offer our network of Independent Affiliates access to our exclusive Live Lead program. Using the patent-pending technology of Agent Power, AVC’s Independent Affiliates can quickly build successful businesses by selling to our Live Leads in addition to their own prospects and customers.”

“There are two differences between Tripology’s lead program and the Live Leads program of AVC. Tripology charged up-front for the leads and offered each lead to more than one travel professional at a time. At AVC we share in the commissions earned from the sale to Live Leads (Shared Success) and each Live Lead is offered to only one travel professional. Both of these key differences create a true win-win for everyone,” Anderson said. AVC is a member of the American Express Travel Representative Network.

 
David Locke of Cindave Inc., an Independent Affiliate of AVC since 2005 said the AVC system works. “Virtually all of my clients are from AVC’s Live Leads. It allows me to focus on what I do best – selling travel and providing outstanding customer service. As a result, I’ve watched my agency’s commissions rise and in 2009 my business had one of its best years ever.”

Toronto based TripAtlas.com, an independent company, offers a comparable lead generation service to that of Tripology and says its business model – launched last year – is proving itself to agents and suppliers.

Steven Kaufman, president of TripAtlas.com, says travel professionals can sign up for a free trial on TripAtlas.com/PRO  which allows them to respond to up to five leads.  Once they see the proven value, agents can continue to use TripAtlas PRO without further commitment on a pay-per-lead basis or they can purchase a  TripAtlas PRO membership for $395 per year or $35 per month.  The membership fee includes access to 150 consumer travel leads per year.

 “Becoming a TripAtlas PRO was one of the greatest and easiest decisions our agency has made in a long time because it has connected us with several new clients without spending a lot of money,” said Ellen Karpman, president of Rockville, Maryland-based Research Travel.

“The lead referrals have been tremendous, while the site has transformed the way we are able to engage customers with products and offers that are of great interest.  The annual fee is minimal, whereas the value TripAtlas PRO brings to the table is priceless,” added Karpman.

Closely related to the cost effectiveness of a lead generating system is the effectiveness of direct mail and email marketing support of consortia as a source of new and repeat business. Nexion member agents can, for example, participate in Vacation.com’s highly effective direct marketing program.
 


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Comments

RE:Analysis: Buyer Beware?
by: Kay
on:
November 2, 2010 - 3:07pm

AVC IS A RIPOFF!! Beware. They skimped on the leads and most are not buyers but rather lookie loos. They wont hire agents with no exsperience or recent experience. My friend has a large book of clients but she was out of the industry for a little while. They wouldnt take her or her money.She went with other HB job and she is selling like 650K a month and slipped right back with no problem! WISE AVC your a downright idiots! Glad I left as well the others that left too and went to a competitor to work with!~


 
RE:Analysis: Buyer Beware?
by: Dennis Hubbs, CTC/MCC/DTP
on:
February 9, 2010 - 1:53pm

The only leads we got were bottom-feeders shoppers and dreamers, no matter how I tried to edit our profile and how "selective" I was. I gave up and never used the remaining funds. They never answered my emails with questions/concerns. No loss here. The BEST way to generate new leads is by referrals from GOOD clients. Dennis Hubbs, D&D Travel, Bloomfield, CT


 
RE:Analysis: Buyer Beware?
by: Brad La Nasa
on:
February 11, 2010 - 11:37am

I have had a lot of success with Tripology. Tripology does give the travel pro the ability to develop their own leads. Purchase a lead once, develop a relationship with the client you will get referrals. Many referrals. I booked one group of 25 (a $5 Lead) I earned...netted $11856.00 on that one sale (That's not gross folks...right into our bank account). It took time, but I now have referrals repeats from that single group. It really is what you put into it. Test what works and be persistent. One email or One phone call is not enough. AVC will tell you the same. Persistence is key, regardless of where your lead is generated. It's easy to knock a program if you haven't had success. Tripology has always been very helpful, honest, and transparent. They offer a valuable service and we will be well served by their continued support and innovation in this industry.


 
RE:Analysis: Buyer Beware?
by: Alanna
on:
February 11, 2010 - 11:37am

Perspectives from agents and clients of Tripology would make this article stronger. This article essentially promotes the large hosting agencies. @@@@@@Many of the Tripology leads were dreamers and irrational bargain hunters.... but those were easy to identify. @@@@@@Tripology's strong point was that it offered independent travelers support for their trip planning experience. They could get help developing great, personalized itineraries without using the conglomerates that host agencies support. @@@@@@As your article points out, there are many lead generation opportunities out there. Tripology could try to compete with those, or offer something totally different, catering to savvy, independent travelers who are capable of doing web searches. They worked hard to align with large providers, and were proactive on social networking. @@@@@@If they relaunch, I'd be pleased to see them reflect this growing trend in the travel market.


 
RE:Analysis: Buyer Beware?
by: Jennifer Byrne
on:
February 11, 2010 - 12:10pm

I'm a successful "Tripologist" who has been using the program since it began. I truly believ in their model and if you are a hard worker and really know your craft, then you can be successful with it. I've booked over $200,000 worth of trips with Tripology since 2007. It works. I'm not a member of a consortia and believe I am capable of running my business on my own without needing a large company to oversee my progress. Tripology's staff were always insightful and quite helpful to the travel community. I am confident they will be up and running again very shortly. The concept works if you are good at what you do.


 
RE:Analysis: Buyer Beware?
by: Mary
on:
May 13, 2010 - 9:12am

Beware of AVC They will take 70% of your commission and all referrals generated from that one lead will be their's, again taking 70% commision. I was promised the referrals as my own, which I thought would be worth giving up that initial commission,but boy was I wrong. I was hounded on every extra person that booked their trip and asked if they came from their live lead. They took that customer as their own because they were referred.. Also, all of my customer base that I put into their system at the time so I could market to them, are still being marketed to by AVC after I quit them as my host agency. That is so wrong. Just my 2cents worth.