Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion, and Michael Batt, founder and chairman of Travel Leaders Group.

Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion, updated members on the host agency's initiatives at its annual conference, which was held in New Orleans last week.

Nexion provides ticketing, operations, fulfillment support and marketing services to independent travel agents. The company was purchased by Tzell Travel last year. Tzell is a division of Travel Leaders Group, which earlier this year purchased powerhouse consortia Vacation.com. With the purchase, Travel Leaders Group created an entity that encompasses nearly 30 percent of all retail travel agencies, say executives.

Several significant internal projects that related 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 also merged its email and accounting systems as well as its human resources department with Tzell’s. It also moved to a new office in Irving, Texas and opened a new one in Montevideo, Uruguay, said Friedman.

Meanwhile, now that Nexion’s new sister division is Vacation.com, a consortia comprised of 5,000 agencies, it can use its sophisticated 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 to an agent’s customers, which is printed on the inside front cover. They also have access to 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. The audience, comprised of independent contractors, applauded this option, which is available now.

An initiative with Passport Online will provide Nexion agents with the chance to upgrade their websites. An existing program provides members with a simple site with little opportunity to customize it. Passport Online’s options gives them nine different templates with 40 different color schemes. Agents can also add their agency logo, a description of their business and an “About Us” page as well. Nexion members who previously didn’t have a website can move right in to the Passport Online program.

Nexion University, the consortia’s training program, has also been improved and will now provide members with pre-recorded webinars. Because many members work at other jobs during the day, it’s not feasible to try to arrange for live training programs.

The big news of the day 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 each month following the completion of each trip. Agents will be able to search Streams by landmark neighborhoods, star ratings or by price. One major option is the ability to add a mark-up in price to the hotel that is opaque to the client, which means agents can add a service fee. Streams also supplies real-time reports that track commissions and access to after-hours support. Nexion members applauded the fact that Streams is available via simple sign in after they access the consortia’s website.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day was the SNAP! air program, which was developed for members who do not use a GDS. Friedman noted that many agents are nervous to sell air because of the threat of debit memos and a fear of airline contracts. “This is not just about a booking engine,” said Friedman. “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.

Visit www.nexion.com