Travel Agent was on location in Las Vegas last week attending Nexion's 2013 CoNexion conference. During the event, which was held at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Nexion execs launched a series of initiatives to better agents' businesses and selling capabilities.
Travel Agent was told about the revamping of its interactive training program PowerUP!. Established in 2008, primarily as a way to attract new agents to the travel industry, the training curriculum will be completely updated and expanded.
"Five years ago when we started PowerUP! we wanted to give new people a good foundation with which to go out and sell travel," says Robbi Hamida, vice president, air and corporate programs, Nexion. "As fast as travel changes, they needed a solid foundation. We wanted to make sure there was a business plan and that we had all the aspects of really owning your business."
It's true. The travel industry changes on what seems like a daily basis, so a five-year-old plan is definitely ready for a fresh look. What is being called PowerUP! 2.0 will have a full revision of all the course work and content. The courses will provide agents with training on the day-to-day tasks and communication necessary to build relationships with clients. Agents will be asked to complete a range of preferred supplier training programs to increase their knowledge of Nexion's supplier offerings, tools and processes.
PowerUP! participants will also be required to complete two case assignments which entail: qualifying the client, conducting the necessary research, presenting the client with a proposal, closing the sale, taking the booking as far as possible in a booking engine and presenting follow-up plans.
Enhanced and revised components of PowerUP! will be available in October, and all updates will be complete by January 1. A one-time program fee of $495 covers all of the training.
"PowerUP! 2.0 lets agents learn at their own pace and there is the ability to earn while you learn," Hamida adds. "You are a full Nexion agent from day one. You have access to the tools and the entire Nexion support team. We want to make sure people know what PowerUP! is. We want to bring more people into this business. We need new blood, with that gleam in their eye."
Complimentary to Nexion agents, OnTarget offers social media and email marketing solutions. "One of the things we hear from agents about where they really need help is marketing," Jackie Friedman, president, Nexion, said to members of the media at a press conference. "They want to know how to use all of these tools and technologies and how to take a more targeted approach to marketing."
Nexion is affiliated with Vacation.com and its agents can take advantage of Vacation.com's engagement program and marketing packages. "We wanted to complement that with some more targeted tools, so we partnered with Passport Online, which will help agents do targeted marketing," Friedman says.
The three OnTarget modules provide e-mail marketing, access to a content library and the option to subscribe to automated social media posts. This provides agents with flexible message delivery through email, Twitter, Facebook and blogs; access to educational, informative and promotional content; the ability to promote Nexion supplier offers; and email marketing tools integrated with ClientBase profiles.
"We have agents who have been in the business for a long time and one of the challenges we have to remember is the more we tout training programs and programs for new agents, the risk is that the experienced agent may not think that Nexion is for them, and that could not be further from the truth," says Friedman. "Marketing is becoming more and more important. Today's agent is more of an entrepreneur, so these are skills that can help them with that component of the business."
The email marketing module will provide agents with the ability to select supplier content and create a customized, professional email to send to their clients. The content library will provide Nexion agents access to content from a wide range of sources including articles, videos, images, hotel and resort promotions, supplier promotions and guest supplier blogs. Agents will have the opportunity to pick and choose the content they would like to personalize and promote via their social media outlets. These two modules will be available beginning October 7.
The automated social media posting module is a social media program that will allow posts to be published to Nexion agents' Facebook pages on their behalf. The program includes a pre-posting approval process that allows Nexion agents the ability to review content and approve or cancel each individual post. This will be available in early 2014.
"These will be provided to our agents at no cost," Friedman adds. "All three are part of Nexion and all three will work independently. This is our investment in our agents. We are trying to develop entrepreneurs."
A total of 42 agents were honored with Nexion’s Circle of Excellence award, recognizing top producers who achieved set goals for selling cruise and tour vacations using Nexion’s preferred supplier partners. In addition, Nexion presented 28 agents with its MillionAir award, recognizing individual achievements of over $1 million in airline sales over the course of the previous year. Receiving both the Circle of Excellence and MillionAir awards were Steve Lincoln from Bridgewater, Virginia, and Samantha Khalil from Palm Bay, Florida.
“It’s a privilege for me – along with the entire Nexion team – to formally recognize the hard work and dedication of our award-winning agents,” said Nexion President Jackie Friedman. “The fact that we have a record number of agent award winners this year – including nine additional MillionAir award winners – confirms that the ongoing commitment Nexion has made to education, training, and industry-leading resources is helping our agents achieve higher levels of business success."
“Being honored with Nexion’s MillionAir award was both a professional and personal accomplishment. Having been in the travel industry for only two years, I am able to achieve the level of success that I have through the programs that Nexion provides their agents. Nexion’s programs allow me to market my agency in a way that sets me apart from other agencies and offer a product with a substantial cost saving to my clients,” said Joseph McNamara of Palm Beach, Florida.
In addition to its Circle of Excellence and MillionAir award winners, Nexion also honored Ester Herz of East Wenatchee, Washington, and Alicia Steuart of Carnival with its Ambassador Award. Herz was honored for her work with Nexion Town, an online agent-driven social networking community, and her commitment to educate other travel agents on the value of being a Nexion member.
For only the second time in Nexion’s history, a supplier has also been honored with a Nexion Ambassador Award. Steuart, director of home based partnerships for Carnival, was recognized for her excellence and dedication to Nexion, both the company and its agents, and her willingness to assist agents in growing their business.
In addition to the recognition at CoNexion, each of these award winners also receives an all-expense paid trip courtesy of Nexion, Funjet Vacations, Palace Resorts and Lomas Travel. This year’s retreat will be at the Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico, from December 7 - 10, 2013.