Independent agents should pay less attention to commission splits when choosing a host agency and concentrate on their ability to achieve profitability and high earnings, argues Scott Koepf, newly named vice president of sales for America’s Vacation Center/Avoya Travel (AVC).
“Agents should look hard at the technology the host offers, the marketing support (including lead generation) and at the host's total package,” Koepf said. “Effective marketing tools and training may be the greatest need of independent agents in this market. Professional agents need the support of innovative host agencies that invest in their agents.”
Koepf, formerly the president of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), told Travel Agent that he will assume his new responsibilities beginning September 1, and will focus on adding more “strongly motivated professional agents to AVC’s ranks.”
Brad Anderson, co-president of America’s Vacation Center/Avoya Travel, also sat in on the interview and underscored the point. “Despite the recession we have continued growth in the number of and performance of our affiliated agents. We are looking for professionals rather than hobbyists.”
While AVC remains focused on leisure travel sales (including cruises and tours), annual sales have been estimated at $150 million.
Anderson says one key to AVC’s success is the superb products offered by cruise lines and tour operators. “Our cruise selling agents are benefiting from tremendous diversity of cruise offers,” he said. “The cruise lines consistently deliver value and satisfied clients. The diversity of brands is also a big plus. Tour programs – especially family travel options are excellent. We see little more than strong growth opportunities ahead in leisure travel despite the downturn.”
Anderson also reported that AVC’s Avoya Travel – the Canadian arm of the company launched earlier this year – is progressing and he expects growth in the Canadian market, including Quebec. Avoya Travel’s Canadian website is now up and running, he notes.
Prior to joining AVC, and in addition to serving as president of NACTA (a division of ASTA) since 2008, Koepf held positions with Sabre Holdings as general manager of host agency Nexion. He was also president of Cruise Holidays International. AVC is part of the American Express Representative Network.
Koepf can now be reached at [email protected] or (305) 677-2308 x365.