With 2019 halfway over, we’re continuing the look back at the biggest and most eye-catching stories of the year. Here, we’ve rounded up the top stories relating to home-based travel agents that grabbed your attention so far this year, ranging from tips on running your business to new incentives and industry news.
In March a Today Show segment on cheap Costco travel deals sparked controversy among travel advisors. While the segment did not mention advisors directly, it did compare the Costco deals to packages that could be booked through online travel agencies (OTAs), implying that Costco is the best source of deals. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) fired back at the today show, spotlighting the value that travel advisors can bring to their clients, both in terms of finding additional perks and helping to safeguard them if things go wrong.
Touting the value of travel advisors continued to be a running theme in May, with Travel Advisor Appreciation Month. We rounded up incentives from suppliers who were celebrating the event with prize drawings, bonus commission and cash offers for advisors.
National Travel Advisor Day kicked off Travel Advisor Appreciation Month, and to help promote advisors to the traveling public, ASTA released a toolkit. The kit included pre-drafted letters to Congress regarding issues directly impacting advisors and their business, a Letter to the Editor portal to help advisors promote their value to their local newspapers and pre-made social media assets.
Tips on running your business also proved popular so far this year, especially this column, which aimed to help advisors deal with suppliers directly reaching out to their clients. The solution? Never stop reminding clients of the value you bring to them, including through conversations and a written email that they can refer back to.
Another column on running your business took aim at a business truism: “The customer is always right.” This column offered tips on when to acquiesce to a “wrong” customer’s demands, and when it is better to cut your losses and drop a client altogether.
Another attention-grabbing incentive so far this year came from the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, which released a portfolio of exclusive discounted rates and offers for travel agents in 2019 as part of Saint Lucia Agent Months. The offers, which include up to 50 percent off hotels, ground transport, meals, tours, activities and more, apply to agents’ personal vacations through November 30.
In major industry news, in February World Travel Holdings joined Travel Leaders Network. The move brought World Travel Holdings’ travel agency franchise and host agency brands Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., as well as the organization’s more than 35 travel brands, under the Travel Leaders umbrella.
Virtuoso also grabbed attention this year for the latest edition of its Best of the Best brochure. New this year, Virtuoso travel agencies in the U.S. and Canada had the opportunity to get a limited number of hardcover copies to display to clients as a coffee table book.
A new bill aimed at changing the definition of independent contractors in California has been grabbing attention this summer. Travel agencies have argued that the legislation would force them to convert their independent contractor agents to full-time employees. At the same time, agencies said that in many cases this conversion would be either too expensive, or not wanted by the independent contractors, who value their independence and flexibility. The California Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill July 3.
Finally, in the wake of this year’s tragic fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko vowed to aid the restoration project. The organization’s travel advisors raised funds through the Tzell and Protravel Foundation, and Travel Leaders Group matched the amount raised. Additionally, the Pinault family, which owns Ponant, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, pledged money to the rebuilding effort.