Vacation.com reports it has welcomed 47 member agencies in the fourth quarter of 2008, establishing a new record for the most fourth quarter member acquisitions and raising the total number of recruits to 217 for the entire year.
“Traditionally, as agency owners focus on the approaching holidays, we typically do not see a growth in new memberships,” said John Lovell, Vacation.com’s vice president of sales and industry relations. “Yet many agencies recognized the necessity of joining Vacation.com during this time to better position themselves for a prosperous 2009.”
The success of Vacation.com’s recruitment strategy was twofold, Lovell says. “First, new members were drawn to the organization’s sales and marketing tools, specifically the latest enhancement to the Engagement direct mail program that allows members to target clients with the discretionary income to travel; and the EZguider sales platform, which enables agents to search, compare and book tours, cruises, insurance and air from one desktop solution.”
Secondly, Lovell says the membership surge was the direct result of a new recruitment campaign launched at the beginning of 2008, in which business development managers (BDMs) focused on select agencies that had proven sales success with Vacation.com's preferred suppliers.
Lovell believes that challenges in the current marketplace played a major part as well, saying, “As the economy soured, agencies began looking for more value out of the organizations they belong to. Our BDMs did a great job demonstrating that value to prospective members, helping them realize that joining Vacation.com is a wise investment.”
Lovell said Vacation.com will continue to aggressively recruit new members throughout 2009 with a variety of campaigns and initiatives. Another surge is expected in second quarter when members can use EZguider to book air without a GDS contract, monthly fees or productivity goals.