The Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST) reached a major membership milestone when its 500th home-based agency recently joined the group. The milestone was announced at the NEST FEST ‘08 “fiesta” annual conference in Xcaret, Mexico, now underway.
"Over the past five years, NEST has built a solid network of top-producing, home-based entrepreneurs,” said Kathryn Mazza-Burney, president of NEST. “We’ve set the bar high and require certain levels of sales and a commitment to continued growth and profitability. Every member is home-based and proud, and is committed to building their business.”
Mazza-Burney went on to explain that NEST agencies must be home-based, independently owned and operated, registered to book directly with suppliers, and able to generate a designated, minimum amount of preferred supplier sales. In return, they receive a full spectrum of marketing, sales, technology and operational support through a close-knit community.
“I’m thrilled and overwhelmed by what my NEST membership has provided me," said NEST agent Angie Keiser, owner of Inspired Escapes Travel. "The marketing materials such as NESTDirect and tools like CruiseNEST and NESThotels have been fantastic supplements to my business, and the virtual sales calls with leading industry suppliers have been invaluable! But my greatest benefit has been the support I’ve received. I look forward to learning, networking and continuing to build my business with the tools and support of NEST.”
NESTDirect Offers Home-Based Agents Turnkey Marketing
NEST also announced at the conference that its NESTDirect direct mail program has gone virtual, allowing NEST agencies to manage their marketing campaigns online 24/7 and maintain full control over the customer databases. NESTDirect is a nationwide direct mail program offering NEST agents a portfolio of professionally designed marketing pieces ranging from postcards to brochures.
NESTDirect’s branded Lifestyle Marketing campaigns are distributed six times a year in the niche markets of: romance travel, family travel, soft adventure, luxury travel, fall savings, and golf & spa. Single vendor promotions are also available throughout the year, highlighting specific destinations, promotions and clientele for designated NEST preferred suppliers.
The NEST team designs, produces and distributes the direct mailers to the NEST agency’s chosen customers. Now that NESTDirect is accessible online, NEST agents need only log onto their Agent Extranet to view available promotion details, import and edit their customer databases, and sign up for the mailings.
A key development in the program is that NEST works
directly with a third-party service to clean the databases, correcting
invalid addresses and keeping the databases up to date. Marketing
segments can also be added to the databases that help agents target
which customers are the best candidates for specific promotions. For
instance, a household showing marital status might be sent the romance
lifestyle mailer; a home with children would be perfect for a family
travel piece; and a household showing substantial annual income would
be a good candidate for a luxury travel direct mailer.
“Data scrubbing is an essential component to implementing a successful direct mail program that is targeted and efficient,” said Nicole Mazza, chief marketing officer for NEST. “Our system accomplishes this very effectively. It also assists home-based agents who have not yet segmented their databases. Using NESTDirect’s advanced technology, agents can quickly and easily segment their databases, allowing them to send the right promotions to the right people. All of this predisposes the sale, pulling customers in to book their travel with their trusted NEST travel advisors.”
NEST Offers Home-Based New Online Tools
NEST also unveiled a new and improved Agent Extranet at NEST FEST '08. The revamped site offers the group’s home-based agencies expanded online tools in an easy-to-navigate format to help build their businesses.
carefully analyzed what home-based agents most need and have added
several new features to our Agent Extranet to meet those needs,” said
Nicole Mazza, chief marketing officer for NEST. “The online community
is a key link in the everyday business lives of the home-based
channel. It functions as their lifeline to suppliers, corporate
headquarters and the industry at large.”
Topping the list of developments at www.inthenest.com is the fact that the MYOB (Market Your Own Business) turnkey marketing solution has gone live. The program integrates online and offline marketing initiatives to help home-based travel agents build a dynamic presence and increase sales revenues in their chosen markets.
At the Promotion Corner of
this virtual community, agents can find NEST’s Lifestyle Marketing
niche travel brochures and other professionally designed flyers that
feature exclusive preferred supplier offers and are automatically
customized with the agencies' contact information. At The Print Shop,
graphic design services are available, including high-quality business
cards, stationery, and logos. Quarterly web-based trainings also offer
up industry experts delivering hands-on sessions demonstrating how to
use MYOB to maximize earning potential.
In addition to the MYOB online enhancement, the entire NEST Agent Extranet has been redesigned with a more intuitive look-and-feel and a strong focus on being user-friendly, including new drop-down menus on the home page. Other practical features include the just-launched JOURNEYS quarterly consumer magazine for 2009, a NESTHotels booking engine and NESTGroups for booking discounted group space on popular cruise lines.