Signature Travel Network is hosting its annual Owners’ Meeting at the newly renovated Palace Hotel in San Francisco, September 14–17, 2016. This four-day event is expected to draw more than 85 percent of Signature travel agency owner members, as well as senior executives from Signature preferred travel supplier partners. Since Signature is a member-owned cooperative, the agency owners attending this event represent the organization’s shareholders. This year marks Signature’s 60th anniversary, and this special occasion will be honored with a celebratory dinner at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, September 16.
The theme of this year’s meeting is CONNECT. Attendees are encouraged to share experiences, best practices and challenges with the goal of increasing their preferred supplier partner sales. Members may take advantage of educational workshops, networking events and one-on-one supplier appointments. The event has three keynote presentations throughout the week; speakers include Anita Mendiratta with CACHET Consulting, Jason Dorsey with the Center for Generational Kinetics and Ron Insana with CNBC.
During the member-only portion of the meeting, Signature President and CEO Alex Sharpe, along with Signature’s board of directors, presents high-level updates regarding the strategic direction of the organization, as well as a 360-degree financial overview. Sharpe recently reported positive returns and sales trends. “For our 2015-2016 fiscal year, we are pleased to announce that the most recent round of shareholder distributions were recorded as the highest yet in the organization’s history,” Sharpe said.
Signature’s technology program includes Client Reach, an application that ties Signature consultants to their clients with personalized messages.
Karen Yeates, Signature’s EVP of information technologies, said that over 80 percent of Signature members use Client Reach, and that some message types have an open rate as high as 91 percent.
Signature’s Automatic Cruise Track is another technology platform that sends email notifications to consultants telling them about changes to booked cruises, such as pricing changes, itinerary changes and newly added promotions. Year to date, Signature has sent almost 80,000 individual notifications through Automatic Cruise Track.
This meeting also focuses on the sharing of key findings that represent a shift in trends for Signature members. One noticeable trend this year includes an increase in luxury brand sales, now accounting for over 50 percent of total member sales. That is up from previous years, and is projected to continue to increase, Signature said.
In addition, Signature said it continues to create more of a balance in its overall sales mix. “Cruise was once 85 percent of our sales, but is now less than half, which made room for tour operators, destination specialists and hotels and resorts,” said Sharpe. “And yet, in the past two years, we have seen an increase in cruise sales year over year, which reflects the growth of Signature and the strength of the members’ businesses.”
Signature’s 60th Anniversary
This year marks Signature’s 60th anniversary. Incorporated in 1956, Leisure Tours, Inc. began as a small southern California cooperative. Leisure Tours became Leisure Travel Group in 1996 with $1 billion in annual sales by 2000. Leisure Travel Group was re-branded as Signature Travel Network in 2004 and a second office was opened in New York City. By 2006, annual sales had doubled to $2 billion. Sales had doubled again to $4 billion by 2009, and steady growth continued at the rate of $500,000 annually to total $7 billion in annual sales in 2016. In the past 25 years, Signature Travel Network has grown five times over, now including over 200 member agencies with more than 500 retail locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Brazil.