Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, presents agents Bonnie and Walter Lee with the “Associate of the Year” award.
ATLANTA, Georgia -- As part of our coverage of the recently-concluded 2013 Travel Leaders National Meeting, Travel Agent was on hand for the company's "Associate of the Year" award presentation, in which franchisees Bonnie and Walter Lee of Albertville, Minnesota took home the honor.
The couple was honored with this year’s “Associate of the Year” award for epitomizing excellence in service to clients and for their effective use of the Travel Leaders brand over the course of the past year," says Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. The honor was bestowed during a special ceremony at the 2013 Travel Leaders National Meeting that took place at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
“Bonnie and Walt literally started their agency from the ground up – in their basement in the 1990’s," says Block. "From the outset, their intent was to build a successful travel agency in a way that was different. Their focus and dedication on a model that specializes in independent contractors is what helps drive their growth. In the last five years, Travel Leaders Albertville has added an additional 350 active agents and increased their sales volume by 125 percent."
The Lees have taken Travel Leaders Albertville from a start-up business to a thriving enterprise – predominantly focused on leisure travel – that is well over $50 million in annual sales. Their business now hosts over 475 ICs across the country, in addition to their full-time travel agents working out of their Albertville agency location.
The Lees have also created an environment that is inclusive of talent that is new to the travel industry. In attracting younger professionals to the travel agency business, the average age of their agents is only 36 years old – roughly 20 years below the national average.
“Their investment in younger talent means it may take a little longer to see the ‘fruits of their labor,’ but they understand that their patience in teaching and training the next generation will benefit their business in the long term,” says Block. “The Lees have also cultivated a successful niche in planning destination weddings and honeymoons. It’s a key cornerstone of their business and the demographic of their agents fits nicely with that segment of their clientele.”