Consortia Update


Motivational speaker Stuart Cohen leads a workshop at CoNexion.

Motivational speaker Stuart Cohen leads a workshop at CoNexion.


As we roll into the next quarter, the industry’s top consortia are hard at work, pulling together updates for its agency members. Here is a look at the latest news on the consortia front.

Virtuoso wrapped its 25th anniversary in August with the close of its Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas. At the event, Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch toasted the more than 4,000 attendees and looked toward the next 25 years. “Even before social media, our focus was on connecting people,” Upchurch said at the general session. “The new starts with a simple yet very powerful concept: we only need one website for all Virtuoso constituents. What makes this different is that it includes capabilities for browsing consumers as well as existing clients who have access to the site through their Virtuoso advisor. Now our day-to-day tool can be optimized to its primary focus: connecting new mutually desirable clients with our agency members and their travel advisors.”

RELATED: Top 6 Travel Trends From Virtuoso Travel Week

During Nexion’s 2013 CoNexion conference in Las Vegas last month, Travel Agent got the scoop on OnTarget, an interactive online marketing center. Complimentary to Nexion agents, OnTarget offers social media and e-mail marketing solutions. “One of the things we hear from agents about where they really need help is marketing,” Jackie Friedman, president, Nexion, said. “They want to know how to use all of these tools and technologies and how to take a more targeted approach to marketing.”

RELATED: CoNexion 2013 Wraps With New Agent Initiatives

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 were also 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. is reporting that registration is officially open for its 16th Annual International Conference & Trade Show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The conference will run from June 8-12, 2014. Over 200 members have already registered for the event. The theme will be “All Access.” members will essentially be provided an All Access pass to the consortium’s programs and tools, activities and headquarters staff, along with VIP access to one of the top destinations booked by members—Las Vegas.

RELATED: Offers ClientBase Training

Ensemble Travel Group is gearing up for its 2013 International Conference, which kicks off at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs on October 31. Topics range from the next generation Ensemble technology, social media best practices and the changing role of the travel agent, to selling the affluent traveler, elevating your value with clients, and turning shoppers into buyers. Peter Sheahan, founder and CEO of ChangeLabs, is the conference keynote speaker. Other speakers will include Larry Pimentel of Azamara Club Cruises, Bruce Poon Tip of G Adventures, Craig Elston of The Integer Group, Meredith Hill of Gifted Travel Network, John Hughes and Peter Brown of Deloitte and Julie Durham and Tom Sycko from Sabre Travel Network.

RELATED: Ensemble On Location Names Global Partners

Signature Travel Network has named a new vice president of National Sales—Kimberly Waters. In her new role, Waters will spearhead membership recruitment and integration and act as a liaison with new and current members. She joins Signature from Carnival Cruise Lines, where she most recently served as business development director.

RELATED: Alex Sharpe Chosen to Succeed Michelle Morgan as Signature's New President and CEO

Signature is also reporting a number of new developments related to its upcoming Sales Meeting and Trade Show to be held in Las Vegas this November. Author and lecturer Shawn Achor will be the keynote speaker. The consortium also reports it will offer 68 seminar sessions that will cover subjects such as marketing, technology, sales training, social media, preferred partner product training, destination workshops, database management and more. To attract and retain young consultants, Signature said it will implement exclusive networking events for its Young Advisor Community (YAC) travel professionals.

ASTA reports it is welcoming over a thousand new travel professionals to its member base, thanks to Tony Gonchar, vice president, American Express Travel. Gonchar, a former ASTA CEO, drove membership registration of more than 1,000 U.S.-based consumer travel counselors and managers from American Express to ASTA. American Express became a charter member of ASTA’s Premium Membership in 2007 and is a member of ASTA’s Corporate Advisory Council.

RELATED: NACTA Promotes Robert Duglin to Vice President

Travel Leaders Franchise Group reports the launch of Travel Leaders Academy, a branded franchise offering that will enable qualified franchisees to provide classroom training to individuals interested in pursuing a career in the travel industry. Travel Leaders Academy says it has already signed its first franchisee and expects to sign several more franchisees soon. Travel Leaders Academy and Travel Leaders of Tomorrow—which provides virtual travel training to prospective travel agents—are similar in that they are both designed to attract new travel agents into the industry and provide possible career placement, the group says. The Travel Leaders Academy differs in that it’s intended for individuals who prefer a live classroom with an individualized instruction setting in which to learn. According to Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, the group has developed the curriculum and will continue to update it, as well as train all instructors. Travel Leaders Franchise Group will also assist each owner with state licensing of their private vocational school.

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