|Nexion President Jackie Friedman and Michael Batt, chairman of Travel Leaders Group, at the Nexion conference in New Orleans.|
Nexion provides ticketing, operations, fulfillment support and marketing services to independent travel agents. The company was acquired by Tzell Travel last year. Tzell is a division of Travel Leaders Group, which, earlier this year, purchased powerhouse consortium Vacation.com. With the purchase, Travel Leaders Group created an entity that encompasses nearly 30 percent of all retail travel agencies, say executives.
Several key internal projects relating to Nexion’s new relationship with Tzell were completed this year, including moving its servers from one city to another and shifting its air program from Sabre Holdings (Nexion’s former owner). It merged its e-mail and accounting systems as well as its human resources department with Tzell’s. Friedman said the company also moved to a new office in Irving, TX, and opened a new one in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Meanwhile, now that Vacation.com, a consortium comprising 5,000 agencies, is Nexion’s new sister division, the latter can use the former’s e-mail and direct marketing program that sends out promotions on an agency’s behalf.
Nexion advisors also have access to Vacation.com’s Destination magazine, which can be customized with a personal letter—printed on the inside front cover—to an agent’s clients. They can avail of Vacation.com’s cruise programs, Amenity Plus and Vacation Vignettes.
Looking ahead, Friedman revealed that new programs for Nexion agents include the opportunity to purchase dental insurance through Renaissance Dental. Independent contractors present at the conference applauded this option, which is available now.
An initiative with Passport Online will let Nexion agents upgrade their websites. While an existing program provides them with a simple site that can be customized to a limited extent, Passport Online’s options include nine templates with 40 color schemes. Agents can also add their agency logo, a description of their business and an “About Us” page. Nexion members who previously didn’t have a website can move right into the Passport Online program.
Nexion University, the company’s training program, has also been improved, with pre-recorded webinars for members. Because many members have other jobs during the day, live training programs are not feasible.
The big news was the expected launch of the Streams hotel program in November or December. It includes 70,000 hotels and pays 12 percent commission. Streams will chase commissions for Nexion agents and pay them out at the end of the month after the completion of a trip. Agents will be able to search Streams by landmark neighborhoods, star ratings or price. The program will also allow agents to add a service fee and will provide real-time reports that track commissions and access to after-hours support. What impressed Nexion members was that Streams will be available via a simple sign-in on the company’s website.
Perhaps, the biggest news of the day was the SNAP! air program, developed for members who do not use a GDS. Friedman noted that many agents are nervous about selling air because of the threat of debit memos and a fear of airline contracts. “This is not just about a booking engine,” she said. “You will have access to a completely separate support team.” Agents will also be able to sell car and hotel bookings using SNAP!, she added.