What's New for Travel Agents From Consortia

Signature Travel Network’s Ignacio Maza says, “Luxury’s potential is nearly limitless.” // Photography: Joseph Laronga NYC

The latest developments from the travel industry’s leading consortia include conferences and seminars, a survey on emerging trends, tips for maximizing luxury sales efforts, and a travel career program for military veterans. Here are some of the details.

ENSEMBLE EVENTS: Ensemble Travel Group has announced that its 2019 International Conference will be held October 23-27 at the just-opened Hyatt Regency Seattle, while Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort will host the Executive Retreat, March 7-10. 

Dates and locations have also been set for the annual Ensemble Extraordinary educational program, designed to help frontline advisors grow their high-end sales of experiential travel and bucket-list destinations. Here’s the schedule”

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  • Newark, NJ: April 30 – Marriott Newark Airport Hotel
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL: May 2 – Westin Fort Lauderdale
  • San Francisco: May 7 – Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
  • Los Angeles: May 9 – Hyatt Regency LAX Airport
  • Chicago: May 14 – The Drake Chicago (O’Hare Airport area)

The annual Ensemble Elite recognition celebration is slated for May 18-25. Ensemble will reward its top producers,  based on members’ 2018 sales performance with the consortia’s preferred partners, with a seven-night cruise roundtrip from Kobe, Japan, aboard Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess.

ASTA CONVENTION: The American Society of Travel Advisors has announced the A-list lineup of speakers for its annual ASTA Global Convention at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, FL, August 25-27, 2019. Among those scheduled to participate are Chris Nassetta of Hilton, Arnold Donald of Carnival Corporation & plc, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Andy Stuart, and Royal Caribbean International’s Michael Bayley. All four are president and CEO of their respective companies. 

VIRTUOSO Luxe Report: Virtuoso has released its annual Luxe Report, predicting emerging trends, motivators and destinations for travel in 2019. Based on a survey of 1,071 of its travel advisors, the report identified personalization as the overarching theme.

With the pervasive presence of social media, Virtuoso’s agents reported that their clients are increasingly looking to take the best photos. Aside from searching out the most beautiful backdrops, travelers are now requesting on-site photography sessions and advisors are arranging for themed photoshoots, such as traditional geisha attire in Kyoto or ball gowns in Venice.

Luxury travelers are also seeking out unconventional accommodations, such as an igloo in Norway or a tent in the Moroccan desert, and requesting VIP airport arrival services and private helicopter transfers to and from the airport.

Virtuoso’s agents reported an elevated desire to explore their passions through bucket-list experiences. Sports enthusiasts are seeking out the Olympics, Super Bowl and Wimbledon, shoppers are requesting appointments at high-end stores and music lovers are planning trips to summer festivals and concerts. Travelers are also looking more into humane animal-related experiences. The Luxe Report also identified Japan as the top emerging destination.

TIPS AND TALK WITH SIGNATURE EXEC: In a recent interview for Travel Agent’s sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, Signature Travel Network’s Executive Vice President Ignacio Maza, told Editorial Director Ruthanne Terrero that, “The luxury travel consumer is the sector that needs advisors the most. Luxury’s potential is nearly limitless.” Among the top tips he offers advisors who wish to up their luxury game are:

  • Don’t underestimate your luxury clients’ knowledge.
  • Knowing what your client doesn’t like is vital.
  • Earn the client’s trust by getting to know them up front.
  • Spell out all of the good things you have done for the client.
  • Choose hotels that “speak” to the client.
  • Stretch their boundaries.
  • When quoting price, start high. 
  • Let trusted suppliers speak to your clients. 

Details on these and other tips, as well as the complete interview, can be found at www.luxurytraveladvisor.com, search “Maza.”

NEXION GRADUATES VETERANS: Last month, 30 veterans became the first to complete the new Veterans in Travel program, a partnership between Nexion Travel Group and Travel Leaders of Tomorrow that provides a path to careers in the travel industry and business ownership for military veterans. In 2019, the Veterans in Travel program expects to train at least an additional 35 veterans interested in launching a career as a professional travel advisor.

Training is provided through Travel Leaders of Tomorrow, a virtual learning community that trains prospective travel advisors. Each participant joins a team for weekly online study halls, lessons, lectures from faculty throughout the travel industry and one-on-one coaching. At the end of the course, each person chooses a travel sales niche and presents a business plan for their future travel agency. Qualified Veterans in Travel scholarship recipients receive:

  • Complete access to Travel Leaders of Tomorrow program
  • A waived activation fee upon joining Nexion Travel Group as a member
  • Two years of free membership for Nexion 80 plan
  • Coaching from Nexion Travel Group’s business coaches
  • Mentorship from current Nexion Travel Group members who have served in the military

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