Rate Your Consortium: The Results Are In

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The results are in: We recently reached out to travel agents to ask them how they feel about the agency group they’ve chosen to work with. We received a broad slate of responses from across the industry — here’s what agents had to say. 

“I am in my fifth year of owning my franchise and being that I was new to the travel industry when I started, I was extremely impressed with the level of training and support I received after I purchased my franchise,” says Paula Kaiser of Dream Vacations, which is part of World Travel Holdings (WTH). “Our corporate folks at Dream Vacations have worked hard to negotiate for amazing exclusive promotions we can offer our clients and I hear over and over again from my travel vendors how well respected Dream Vacations and World Travel Holdings are in the industry. Our WTH leaders are extremely approachable, accessible and authentic in helping each franchise owner and their associates move forward in their successes within the industry.”

Rosemary Saganic of Anderson Travel writes, “More than 20 years ago, when my partner and I purchased the agency, it had been a charter member of TIME, which was then absorbed into another consortium. At that time we looked for a consortium that would not only help us improve our bottom line, but would help us learn and expand our horizons and not treat us as just another number or notch in their belt. TravelSavers offers the newest technology, ticketing and commission options, advice on growth potential and preferred suppliers that work with us. They have become a family to us and we so appreciate all they have to offer.”

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“11 years ago my business partner and I purchased the agency we had worked in for over 20 years,” says Pat Ziwisky. “We knew how to be travel agents but didn't know a lot about actually running a business. One of the first and by far the best decision we made in that first year was joining MAST. We have received amazing support and guidance from the president and other officers as well as all the members. We are all working together to make each of us better.”

Barb Ashley writes, “I joined my host agency in 2011. I love that Palm Coast/ Oasis Agents are a part of the Signature Travel Network Consortium. They make my job so much easier. Signature continually feeds information to my website for cruises, land packages and tour information. I have electronic marketing that sends information out to my customers on a weekly basis, all I have to do is log in. I can send the most amazing micro sites to my clients that make me look like a superstar. I have some of the best software programs in the industry for me and my clients. I have information on all countries, preferred supplier information that is continuously updated. I have access to destination specialist at my fingertips. We have social networking opportunities where we share ideas and questions with our peers in the Network.”

“When it comes to selecting a host agency it is important to consider the type of support you get to help with the challenging aspects of maintaining your business and how well the host keeps up with things that are happening in the industry,” says Lillie West. “I am a part of the World Travel Holdings Family as a Cruises Inc. agency. I have been very pleased with Cruises Inc. as my host. The support from staff and other agents is always there no matter the situation. In addition to this, they are continually keeping us up to date on all things concerning the travel industry and the technical staff is there to help with any issues as well. Even if I just need encouragement, our HQ staff and other agents are always willing to offer their expertise. Knowing I have this type of support allows me to concentrate on growing my business so that I can succeed in the industry.”

“I just renewed my five year franchise agreement two months ago as a CruiseOne and now Dream Vacations franchisee,” says Trapper Martin. “The support of the overall WTH brand is incredible and our group corporate programs for group space as well as all agents being able to open their own groups into group share programs provide us with some incredible price advantages. They continually invest in incentive programs to help us gain bookings and the investments in IT continue to move the brand forward. I have never worked in any environment where each franchisee SUPPORTS each other and are so willing to share information to help us all improve as a brand.”

“Signature Travel Network is by far the best option for agencies and agents who wish to succeed,” says Beth Christie of Cruise Vacation Outlet. “Their staff is dedicated to agency/agent success. Their product support, knowledge, and amenities allow us to provide superior service and value to our clients. Signature cannot be beat.”

“Our travel management company has been in business for 42 years and we have been involved with several consortiums, but I must say that the wisest decision that we made was to go with TravelSavers,” says Pat Cinfici, president of Boscov’s Travel. “They provide outstanding support to us at all levels from our front line agents, to marketing staff and to our executive management team. TravelSavers are innovators in technology, industry trends, new products and committed to the travel agent community’s success.”

Bryan Villella of Cruise One - Fort Lauderdale writes, “We have access to the best rates in the industry and that value can be passed on to our clients. We often have block space or groups that provide great unbeatable rates. We use the best online booking engine that offers up real time pricing and booking options 24/7. I also enjoy access to the phone bank lead system that gives me phone leads when ever I choose to check in. I appreciate the amount of training that is offered at Cruise One and take advantage of it as often as I can. I also participate in a mentor program to assist new agents with a jump start into their new franchise business.”

“Dream Vacations/CruiseOne has exceeded every possible pre-expected expectation we had for a consortium,” says Ralph Santisteban, a Dream Vacations/CruiseOne franchise owner in Miami. “Their never-ending support and dedication to the network has made our decision to be part of their family the best business decision of our lives!”

Jennifer Walker, a member of the MAST consortium, says she loves its support of agents of all experience levels. “As a home-based agency, I can use all the help I can get with marketing, business coaching, sales skills and technology needs,” she says. “MAST's staff members are highly skilled, friendly and willing to assist. I know I can count on them to support me throughout the year, and the annual membership is minimal compared with all they offer to their agents.”

“As a Dream Vacations franchise owner, I can't imagine a better way to operate my business but under the WTH umbrella,” says Debby Hughes. “Our marketing and IT teams, along with the management team at HQ, have spent the last several years creating innovative and comprehensive support systems so I can focus on helping my clients in the best way possible. It's also a privilege to collaborate with and learn from the rest of the agents in the family, as we share our experience and knowledge with each other on a daily basis. Most importantly, the company's co-owners are full of passion, integrity, and the motivation to advocate for travel agents whenever necessary, providing a complete package of support and inspiration for my business.”

“I've been with CruiseOne for 11 years,” says Darci Upham. “I researched many options before choosing CruiseOne and I've never doubted that I chose the right company to work with. I continue to be impressed with our headquarters team, year after year. We remain on the cutting edge of technology. We have lots of block space and exclusive promotions that give us a price advantage on many sailings. Sales and marketing support is exceptional. Between the HQ staff and agents, we have an amazing group of people who are always willing to help each other.”

“My agency is a member of the MAST consortium,” says Jennifer Huls Wayland. “I looked for 10 years, for the perfect fit. Once I learned about MAST and heard the testimonials, I researched further and decided it was a great fit. The training and support is outstanding. The participation from agencies is terrific. I have the President on speed dial. I feel like I get extra special acknowledgement with suppliers as a MAST agency. They know that I have a full support system with MAST and all the tools to be successful. MAST also has a great reputation with industry leaders and has used those connections to recommended me for other opportunities in the industry that I wouldn't have been considered for. We are definitely in the right place and are well cared for. If you want to grow your sales and even more-so your knowledge of the industry and short cuts to get ahead, you want to partner with MAST.”

“I am extremely happy,” says Monica Guevara Calenda. “My agency is part of the CruiseOne team under Dream Vacations. We are also part of the World Travel Holdings family. For the last two years I been growing my small home-business with the best resources available and competitive prices for my clients. We have strong partnership with our suppliers and their BDM's. We are also constantly training, so that we can stay up to date with best practices and products available. We have a great presence in the social media world and our sales, marketing and media teams are always coming up with new ideas and ways to attract more business...they give us the tools and we make it our own, targeting/tailoring to the brands and clientele we desire.”

“My time as a Franchise Owner with CruiseOne began in May 2013,” says Rhonda Meyer Day. “In 2016, I rebranded as a Dream Vacations franchise. The experience has been supportive and positive every step of the way. Headquarters staff is available and happy to help. From our Support Services staff up to Brad Tolkin (CEO), everyone is approachable and open-minded. The invaluable relationships we have with suppliers makes a huge difference in support and commissions. The best part: I am free to run my own business and make my own decisions on how successful I want to be, but I am not alone.”

“Signature Travel Network for sure!” writes Mary Nielson of Harmon Travel. “I have been in the travel business for many years as both a retail agent and home based, as well as a member of both Virtuoso and Signature. By far and hands down, I can honestly rate Signature at the top! Signature is dedicated to their agent and supplier members by consistently being at the top of the technology game, memberships, education, and support. I would not consider any other consortia in this business!”

“I have been an independent contractor and personal vacation specialist with Cruises Inc. for 12 years,” says John Gawne. “They provided me, an experienced cruiser but novice agent, with comprehensive seven-day training at their HQ in Fort Lauderdale, including multiple ship inspections and hands on training on their proprietary software. They have provided access to live vendor webinars just for WTH members multiple times a week, 6 days/week access to live support from HQ staff, and easy access by phone or email to all HQ staff. I didn't know anything about an agent's website, but was provided with a comprehensive personal website that has continually been updated with our own and various land and cruise vendor promotional information. I was able to personalize it and update it regularly with my own cruise reviews and insights. The provide email marketing newsletters at least weekly for me that go out automatically to prospects and clients whom I have had contact with over the years. In recent years Cruises Inc. has had success in educating my clients and prospects that we serve people interested in land vacations and river cruises in Europe and the vacations in the Caribbean, including all-inclusive resorts, and has provided access for prospective clients to videos of various possible locations. I don't need to be a "techie" to make use of all the online resources they provide to Cruises Inc. agents. Cruises Inc has been the perfect match for me, after having had multiple careers ended due to mergers and the economy, and permitted me to be fully independent at minimal cost in this new career. It is apparent to me at our annual national conferences that the WTH companies including Cruises Inc. are highly valued partners with the cruises lines, and many land vendors. I made the right choice of partners 12 years ago, and they confirm it over and over every year.”

Al Richman, who had been with CruiseOne since 2008 before rebranding under Dream Vacations in 2016, says, “The investments made by the company on behalf of all agents in the 3 home-based brands are in many areas. Technology assets second to none, exclusive promotions, advantageous pricing for both FIT and groups, a variety of resources to promote and generate new business, valuable add-on revenue opportunities such as travel insurance, excursions, and pre/post hotels which gives agents the opportunity to put entire packages together for a client and maximize revenue potential.”

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