Vian Andrews, founder and CEO of VisitsandTrips.com and TravelActors.com
There’s a new host agency coming that promises to seek to harness the power of the Internet and social media to provide members with a “robust, highly integrated system to maximize sales.” So says Vian Andrews, founder and CEO of VisitsandTrips.com, about his new venture, TravelActors.com. The system will be combined with VisitsandTrips.com’s “buying clout” through its network of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), tour operators, and travel service providers, he says.
TravelActors.com is a division of VTN Travel International which markets travel services under the Visits & Trips Network brand. The company is not affiliated with any consortia, Andrews says, nor is it a member of OSSN or NACTA.
An entrepreneur and attorney, Andrews co-founded ItalianVisits.com and ItalyforAgents.com, which provided travel services to Italy-bound clients from 2002 to 2011. As the company added new destinations, the brand changed to Visits & Trips Network.
Since 2006, Andrews says, he has been developing a web-based travel management and publishing system that has been used to market and promote travel on the Internet. “This software platform has been in continual use by Visits & Trips staff agents for over five years and is now being adopted as a travel platform for use by TravelActor agents and TripNut.com members.”
“TravelActors.com was created specifically for travel professionals who are looking to apply their skills, knowledge and experience to take advantage of the opportunities available online,” Andrews says. “Unlike other hosts, we do not use the preferred supplier model. We will use the Kuoni/GTA wholesale booking engine for hotel bookings, but for other services we contract directly with suppliers or with destination management companies and then integrate their products and services into our system for sale to clients. Agents and clients assemble seamless itineraries using our proprietary travel management system. Agents buy at net and then determine the markup to add for their clients,” Andrews adds, noting that the company is self-financed with no outside investors.
TravelActors.com members will receive marketing tools that include travel management, an Agent’s HelpDesk, an online lead-generation system, and tools for both online and “on-the-ground” advertising and promotion. They will also receive ongoing training in travel management and marketing, tailored specifically to the agent’s level of experience and goals.
“TravelActor agents will sell under the TripNut.com brand, not under their own name. In this way, they will enjoy [two] revenue streams: They will have income from services they provide to their clients directly, and they will also earn a share of the revenue received when their clients book directly on their TripNut accounts,” Andrews says.
Basic to the program is the agent’s own branded website, directly connected to their clients’ personalized travel portal, called TripNut.com. Clients can design and book their trips, create travel diaries and “wish lists,” upload photos and post comments, and invite families and friends to view their content and interact with each. TripNut is in development during the launch period but offers an example of an agent site at www.tripnut.com/tab/agent/onspot. Every client booking, whether done on their own or through the TravelActors.com agent, is commissionable.
Within the TripNut.com social media portal, the TravelActors.com agent is always “on call”—just a click away to their customers—to personally address their questions and assist them in designing and booking their travel.
“TripNut.com...will be highly integrated into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest [and] will allow its members to invite families and friends into becoming members,” Andrews says.
TripNut.com also serves as a lead-generating tool, noted Andrews. “Customers can invite family and friends to join the site, and everyone that does so becomes a potential new customer.”
Official launch of TravelActors.com is scheduled for January 1, 2014. However, from now through December 31, during the pre-launch “Founders” period, TravelActors.com said qualified agents can join for a one-time start-up fee of $750. The regular, post-launch fee will be $1,150.