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MAST Reports Agency Benchmarking SurveySeptember 23, 2008 By: George Dooley
MAST Travel Network, Oak Brook Terrace, IL, has released details of its recent Agency Benchmarking Survey. The results allow MAST’s 172 member agencies to assess their current business situation and to help them form the foundation for future business planning, according to John Werner, president and COO of MAST.
The survey results were accompanied by analysis and interpretation of the data. Factual support was gathered from various resources, including other industry surveys, to provide more depth and meaning to the results. The survey asked questions related to agency operations, GDS and agency booking methods, back-office and customer database use, agency marketing, employee compensation and benefits, agency training, use of independent contractors, and agency sales in total and by sales employee.
Among the findings: 90 percent of MAST members use a GDS and are ARC-appointed but do not use the GDS exclusively for booking air travel. Sixty-percent book some air travel on airline websites. Other than direct mail, 74 percent of respondents find radio advertising effective. Eighty-one percent have consumer websites with another 10 percent rolling-out new websites in the next 12 months.
The most common form of employee compensation is straight salary or salary plus commission. Only 13 percent of respondents report paying employees straight commission. More than one-third of agencies offer employees health insurance. The three most desired methods of training are fam trips and study tours, online tutorials, and supplier training in the agency. Just one-fifth of respondents charge fees for services other than air transactions particularly for FIT and customized itinerary planning.
Werner said that MAST has held the first in a series of sales skills training seminars titled “MASTering Sales Workshop.” The half-day program was held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers and presented by veteran industry sales trainer, John Dalton. Sixty-five agency owners and front-line sales staff from 31 agencies participated. The workshop was designed to convert both beginner and experienced travel agents into better sales professionals.
“Participants already report positive results in applying the sales techniques learned and have made subsequent changes in their offices," Werner said. "The workshop followed the customer experience from inquiry to booking and dealt with all the traps and detours along the way."
An online forum for participants has been set up to continue the learning process and reinforce the sales techniques acquired. The MASTering Sales Workshop will again be presented November 18, during MAST’s annual fall education and trade fair event.