|Alex Sharpe, Signature's president and CEO, speaks at the General Session.|
Signature Travel Network recently held its annual Owners' Meeting at The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts.
In addition to workshops, speakers, casual networking opportunities and members-only sessions, the event also included a pre-meeting Boston Red Sox game, a private event at Fenway Park, complimentary tours exploring the best of Boston, and a dinner event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, said Signature President and CEO Alex Sharpe.
During the members-only portion of the meeting, Sharpe and Eric Maryanov, chairman of Signature’s Board of Directors, provided shareholders a financial review and strategic plan for the coming year.
“For our 2014-2015 fiscal year, we are pleased to announce the recent highest patronage dividends distribution in the organization’s history, and we are excited to see strong sales numbers continuing throughout 2015 and into 2016," Sharpe said. "Future sales are up 15 percent overall, with some key segments tracking 30 percent above same time last year.”
The general session also featured a selection of news and updates from Signature's executive team. Ignacio Maza, Signature’s executive vice president, shared hotel industry trends and the latest features and additions to the Signature Hotels & Resorts program. Karen Yeates, executive vice president, information technologies, provided an overview of new programs and enhancements involving Signature’s proprietary technology solutions. Karryn Christopher, senior vice president sales and marketing, showed tips on how Signature helped members expand their reach and grow their sales with new list services and customer database management. Gina Weyer, vice president, training and member services, reported on the launch of Signature’s Travel Experts program and the new training opportunities available at the upcoming November 2015 Sales Meeting and throughout 2016. Kimberly Waters, vice president, national sales and member engagement, shared success stories from Signature’s membership support and engagement initiatives as well as the launch of a new membership website.
The general session on Thursday, September 10, also featured keynote speaker, Harry Kraemer Jr., a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and executive partner of Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP). In addition to teaching management and strategy as well as consulting with CEOs and other senior executives of companies in MDP’s extensive portfolio, Kraemer is a best-selling author on the topic of value-based leadership.
On Friday, September 11, the general session included three keynote speakers: Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president and group head of market insights at MasterCard, and an expert on macro-to-micro economic trends related to consumer spending; Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, who shared his insights on selling and marketing to the luxury travel segment; and Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, who explored strategies for recruiting and retaining new talent of all ages.
Update on Travel Expert Certification Program
At the event Signature also shared the latest details on its Travel Expert certification course, which launched on June 1 as a training program aimed at helping Signature consultants leverage the network's unique benefits. The online training program takes a total of 15 hours to complete and consists of 98 lessons, including videos, handouts and quizzes. Travel consultants must achieve a score of 90 percent or higher to receive certification.
Consultants who complete the program also receive a certificate of achievement, a Signature Travel Expert logo to display on their profile, acknowledgement at the Sales Meeting & Trade Show and other events and priority consideration for Signature Educational Journeys.
Welcome Luncheon for New Members
Finally, on September 9 Signature held a welcome luncheon for the seven new members the organization has welcomed in 2015:
- Above & Beyond Travel – Williamsburg, VA
- Best Price Cruises & Tours – Port St. Lucie, FL
- Cruise and Travel Specialists – Lake Oswego, OR
- Quay Travel – Auckland, New Zealand
- Rubinsohn Travel – Jenkintown, PA
- Shangri-La World Travel – Southlake, TX
- Sunrise Travel Center, Inc. – Sea Girt, NY
Signature also hosted a new member forum on September 10.