Travel Leaders' 2013 National Meeting Kicks Off With General Session

ATLANTA, Georgia -- Travel Agent was on hand Thursday for the opening general session of the 2013 Travel Leaders National Meeting, in which nearly 700 agents gathered at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta for presentations by Travel Leaders representatives and partners.

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"You are the reason we are here," says Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, part of Travel Leaders Group, "not just at this meeting, but in this industry, running with the big dogs."

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Steve Loucks, chief communications officer for Travel Leaders Group, then told attendees what they could expect for the days ahead. Loucks says for the next few days, the focus will be on where the company is heading, the latest travel trends and how to use those trends to make more sales, updates on resources that Travel Leaders has launched within the last year and new initiatives, including tips on managing a marketing campaign.

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Funjet Vacations President Mike Going took the stage next and assured agents that the company's owner, William La Macchia, will not be selling the company anytime soon, something Going says agents have been concerned about.

"I asked him, 'Are you interested in selling the company because agents want to know,?'" says Going, "And he said, 'No, I'm having too much fun.'"

Going says Funjet Vacations' revenue was up 20 percent in 2013 and preliminary projections call for a 43 percent increase in 2014.

Steve Sear, senior vice-president of global-sales for Delta Air Lines, closed out the speaker portion of the session by addressing airline consolidations.

"On a consolidation side, we have been supportive of that, it's good to have a stable industry," says Sear. "In mature industries, it's very natural to have consolidation. I think it's a natural evolution that we are seeing right now."

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As far as Delta's fleet goes, Sear told attendees that the airline is slowly getting rid of its 50-seat jets and replacing them with bigger, more modern aircraft.

"The 50-seat jet is a little outdated and doesn't make sense in this fuel environment," says Sear. "They are the highest cost and everyone's least favorite. We are rapidly returning or selling our 50-seaters and bringing in aircraft like the 737's, 717's and 76-seaters."

Follow the meeting on Twitter by using #TLNM2013 and keep visiting for more updates from the show, which runs through November 16.