On Site: How Tzell Purchase of Nexion Impacts Agents


Jackie Friedman

What can Nexion travel agents expect now that their host agency has been purchased by Tzell Travel from Sabre Holdings? JackieFriedman, president of Nexion, laid it all out for them at the company’s second annual conference, which is being held in Miami this week at the Marriott Biscayne Bay.

NewYork-based Tzell, a division of TravelLeaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit), completed the purchase last month.

“The thought of changing to a new organization was a little scary at first,” Friedman told the agents in attendance, who noted that over the next few months, it’s likely that she and her colleagues will be taken out of their comfort zones. “But that’s good,” she added.

The bottom line is that Nexion agents, the majority of whom are independents, will enjoy higher air commissions, enhanced technology and exclusive content, while enjoying the same strong foundation on which Nexion is built, said Friedman, noting that the 52 Nexion employees will remain on board. “Our relationships with our preferred suppliers aren’t changing either. The services we are providing will grow and evolve, but our foundation isn’t changing.”

Friedman explained how Tzell and Travel Leaders are “powerhouses” in the travel industry, citing the fact that Travel Leaders has 1,300 franchised and wholly owned agencies in the United States and Canada, with $6 billion in annual travel sales.

Tzell, meanwhile, has $1 billion in annual sales with 50 locations in the U.S. and one location in London. “Many Tzell agents are independents, just like you,” said Friedman, “and about 300 of them work in the same New York office.”

The relationship with Tzell also allows Nexion to roll out a new air program in January 2011, through which all members will earn commission, whether they book by GDS or online. (Tzell’s airline program is known in the industry as one of its most competitive benefits). Friedman said that agents are leaving money on the table by not booking air, citing the fact that the major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, are repositioning many of their ships in Europe next year. “How do you think your clients will get there?” she asked the audience rhetorically.

Other member enhancements that will launch in January for Nexion members include access to Tzell’s hotel program, which encompasses 500 properties in 250 destinations, many of which are high end. Preferred access to inventory at the properties, as well as a unique amenities program are some of the benefits that are included. In addition, because of Tzell’s sales volume, clients of Nexion agents will enjoy better pricing on travel products, Friedman added.

“We are also looking at where we can offer you better technology which could lead to better reporting to help you get more business,” said Friedman.

Nexion agents will now also receive enhanced commissions with specific providers: SingleCruises.com (12 percent) and All Aboard Travel (13 percent), which packages cruises, hotel and air.

Starting  November 1, they’ll also receive 14 percent commission via a new prepaid hotel program (Nexion has asked members to help name it with a more glamorous moniker). The provider pays commissions once a month, Friedman told members.