Travel Leaders Network is launching a new educational opportunity for agency owners and a dedicated marketplace for agents looking to sell their agency, Travel Leaders Network President Roger Block told attendees of the organization's first EDGE Conference—the first such event since the combination of Vacation.com, Results! Travel and Travel Leaders Associates 18 months ago. The five-day EDGE (Educate, Discover, Gather, Evolve) Conference has drawn over 2,000 attendees, runs from June 12-16 and presents a number of educational workshops and professional development sessions, technology showcases and guest speakers.
The merger, Block says, has generated significant return on investment for the organization. Over the past few months the company has strategically decreased redundancies to free up more resources for member agencies, seen a significant increase in leads from Agent Profiler and launched expansions of Travel Leaders Network's marketing team and training organization.
To help agency owners keep their "edge," Block says that Travel Leaders Network has partnered with MPG Travel Solutions on a series of in-depth, highly personalized regional seminars. Led by Ken Pomerantz, Mike Going and Terry Morrison, MPG will be able to provide attendees with the knowledge they need to develop a complete strategic business and marketing plan for their agency, according to Block.
"They bring an understanding of the leisure travel space and the challenges agencies face every day," Block says. "Over the course of their careers, these three individuals have worked with some of the most successful agencies in the country."
Three seminars with MPG are planned, each lasting one and a half to two days. Block warns that, since the aim is to offer highly personalized training, space will be extremely limited. By the end, though, attendees will be able to construct "a complete strategic business and marketing plan for your agency," Block says.
Block also announced a new initiative aimed at agency owners at a different stage of their career.
"Here's a fact of life: When you start your travel business, someday you're going to want to sell that asset," Block says. "After all, no one lives forever."
To that end, Travel Leaders Network is launching a dedicated website, dubbed Agency Marketplace, for travel agency owners looking to sell their agency. Buyers looking to acquire a travel agency will be able to place an ad on the website specifying the type of agency they are looking for—everything from size to geographical restrictions. Then, owners looking to sell will be able to select a buyer that interests them.
"Think of it as an agent profiler for matching buyers and sellers," Block says.
There is no cost for sellers looking to use the website, but there will be a listing fee for buyers.
The new moves come as Travel Leaders Network is optimistic about the future of travel agents.
"Ladies and gentleman, this is the year of the travel agents, and we have the edge," Block says. "More people than ever are recognizing the value of what we do and who we are. We're travelers, we're explorers and experts. We're educators and advisors. We're the guys on the inside, the absolute experts who can make things happen like no one else can."