Following this week's news that travel agent lead generation site Tripology is shutting its doors, travel agents and industry organizations are weighing in on what the move means for the future.
"We don’t think the demise of Tripology is at all related to demand from consumers for travel advisors," David Kolner, SVP - consumer for Virtuoso, tells Travel Agent. "Our own lead generation programs for consumers are up well over 100 percent year-over-year."
Kolner says that online marketing can take place on many levels beyond just contact forms, such as consumer publications like Virtuoso Life and Virtuoso Traveler, as well as partnerships like Virtuoso's recent venture with Merrill Lynch.
"Certainly, Virtuoso members and ASTA members around the world tell this story on their own websites; in social media; and in their own networking and referrals," Kolner says. "While Tripology was one of those ways, we remain optimistic and rewarded on the growth of consumers using travel advisors, from the web or beyond."
Travel Leaders Franchise Group President Roger Block says, "There really is no void left behind."
Block points out that Travel Leaders has been stepping up its own lead generation efforts over the past four years with the company's Agent Profiler solution.
"Our latest upgrades – dubbed Agent Profiler 2.0 – mean that even more relevant content is being driven within Travel Leaders’ leisure website, www.travelleaders.com, additional specialists will be highlighted throughout our branded promotions, and increased opportunities will be offered to consumers desiring to connect with a travel agent specialist," says Block.
John Lovell, president of Vacation.com, says that his company has been focusing on its own lead generation tool, Agent Snapshot.
"Vacation.com had partnered with Tripology until early last year, but as we began the process of building our own Agent Snapshot, we ended that relationship and began encouraging our members to place their emphasis on our own proprietary site," Lovell says. "For those agents who used Tripology, we’re helping them input their bio information into Agent Snapshot, while they can still access their Tripology content."
Jackie Friedman, president of Vacation.com member Nexion, agrees.
"The reality is that Nexion is putting all of our emphasis and focus on getting our agents up and running with Agent Snapshot," Friedman says. "We kicked off that effort at CoNexion last September. We had a photographer available to take our agents’ profile pictures and have been encouraging them to work with the copywriter to create their profiles. We have offered training on it at all of our regional events and Boot Camps and plan on a big focus at CoNexion this year."
What Agents Are Saying
At the same time, some travel agents on our Facebook page were still mourning Tripology's departure.
"Tripology has been a fundamental part of my agency's success - I've booked over $700,000 in business from their leads over the years," says Robert Beukema. "I'll miss them greatly, and just hope I can find a suitable replacement. It was difficult when they closed the last time!"
A representative of Aleksander World Travel agrees. "Tripology has been a mainstay for new travel clients, even with several bumps along the way and changes in ownership. Where do we go from here?"
What to Do If You Use Tripology
After June 25, 2015, agent profiles will no longer be accessible and agents will not be able to download their Tripology history.
Agents are also encouraged to contact any leads in progress using their own email account or phone. Tripology is no longer accepting new leads as of June 16.
In terms of refunds, Tripology has said that the company will "use commercially reasonable efforts to refund the remaining paid lead credit balances as of June 16, 2015." The company will not issue refunds for "Any unpaid lead credits including free, promotional, and/or courtesy lead credits left in your Tripology account."
For agents with both paid and unpaid lead credits remaining in their account, it is always assumed that paid lead credits are depleted first and unpaid lead credits last. Additionally, Tripology will not issue refunds for unused lead credits if agents have not made a lead purchase within two years of registering. If agents have not logged into their account since June 16, 2013, and did not purchase a lead before June 16, 2015, all lead credits in their account will be foreited.
Tripology will begin issuing refunds as of June 22. To ensure that they receive their refund, agents should verify that Tripology has their correct mailing address on file by logging into their account and visiting http://www.tripology.com/agent/company/. Agents should allow a minimum of 14 days to receive their refund payment in the mail. All refunds will be made by check.
Agents can contact the Tripology support team at:
Business Hours: 9AM to 6PM EST (Monday through Friday)
Email: [email protected]
Tripology has also released a set of FAQs on the shutdown agents can access at www.tripology.com/farewell/agent-faq.