Travel Leaders National Meeting: Virtual Payments, Agent Awards

Sandy Lovick and David Lovick Jr. with Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Network
Sandy Lovick and David Lovick Jr. with Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Network

Travel Leaders is hosting its 2016 National Meeting at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Here’s the latest from the event. 

Associate of the Year Awards

This year’s event marked the first time ever that there were two Associate of the Year award winners: Sandy Lovick and Dave Lovick, as well as Cindy Tyo. The award is bestowed upon the Travel Leaders Associate (franchisee) who most epitomizes excellence in service to clients and effectively represents the Travel Leaders brand over the course of the past year, Travel Leaders said. 

The award marks the second win for Twin Cities-based Travel Leaders Associates Sandy Lovick and David Lovick Jr. Together, they co-own the Travel Leaders locations in Blaine, Maple Grove, Mendota Heights, Rochester, Stillwater, and Woodbury, MN, along with River Falls, WI.

The origins of the Lovicks’ Travel Leaders locations came when Sandy entered the travel business in 1979.  Five years later, she started what was known as Market Square Travel on the edge of downtown Minneapolis in a renovated warehouse known as International Market Square. The Lovicks joined Travel Leaders (then Ask Mr. Foster) in 1986, and have expanded their reach with six locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area and one in western Wisconsin. They assist clients with leisure and corporate travel, luxury travel, group travel, destination weddings, honeymoon travel, and more.

The Lovicks were first honored with Travel Leaders’ “Associate of the Year” award in 2008, and Travel Leaders’ highest honor, the Golden Legacy Award, in 2009. In order to be considered for the Associate of the Year award, they first had to earn Travel Leaders’ “Agency of Excellence” award.  Only 23 franchisees nationally were honored with that distinction in 2016.  To earn the “Agency of Excellence” award, Travel Leaders agencies are scored in several categories that reflect business growth; utilization of marketing programs to effectively reach local consumers; participation in key training programs to enhance service to their clients, as well as in local and national business networking meetings, and their overall promotion of the Travel Leaders brand. 

Through more than 30 years of serving local travelers, the Lovicks have increased their presence to include – Blaine (10950 Club West Parkway Suite 180), Maple Grove (13756 83rd Way North), Mendota Heights (750 Main Street, Suite 105), Rochester (3522 55th Street NW, Suite 4), Stillwater (5980 Neal Ave N., Suite 200), and Woodbury (710 Commerce Drive, Suite 160), along with River Falls, WI (117 East Maple Street).

Cindy Tyo and Block
Cindy Tyo and Block

Fargo-based Travel Leaders Associate Cindy Tyo won the award for the first time. Tyo is the owner of the Travel Leaders locations in Fargo, ND; and Detroit Lakes, MN

Tyo, who is originally from Argyle, MN, moved to the Fargo/Moorhead area after high school, and originally planned to build a career in the medical field.  But by the age of 19, after working in a hotel and travel agency in the area, she realized her passion was travel. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Tyo worked as a travel agency manager in Crookston, MN, and in Fargo/Moorhead.  Tyo then spent several years in Los Angeles, CA, before returning to Fargo – first to manage her current agency, then becoming the agency’s owner in 2003.

As the owner of the Travel Leaders locations in Fargo and Detroit Lakes, Tyo has been honored with numerous awards from Travel Leaders and has been recognized by various travel industry suppliers, such as Princess Cruises, Travel Guard and Viking River Cruises. Her agencies are also top producers for Barcelo Hotels & Resorts, Funjet Vacations, and RUI Hotels & Resorts, among others.

Under Tyo’s leadership, her Travel Leaders locations continue to thrive and innovate. The creation of a specialized wedding division, called VIP – Vows in Paradise, has exceeded expectations. Part of its success is through promoting and sponsoring six wedding shows annually. In addition, cross-promotional partnerships with local merchants have been extremely popular among destination wedding and honeymoon clients. 

Travel Leaders Fargo is located at 1700 42nd Street SW, Suite 1,000 (701-492-5000) and Travel Leaders Detroit Lakes is located at 808 Washington Avenue, Suite 22A (218-847-9231). 

Kathy Davig (on left) and Rebecca Naugler, Block and Perry Lungmus, vice president, Travel Leaders
Kathy Davig (on left); Block, Perry Lungmus, vice president, Travel Leaders; and Rebecca Naugler

Golden Legacy Award

Finally, at the event Travel Leaders also announced the winner of its highest annual honor, the Golden Legacy Award. The winners are Rebecca Naugler, Kathy Davig and Elizabeth Ranger of Travel Leaders/Goli’s Avenues of Travel in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Golden Legacy Award honors Travel Leaders Associates (franchisees) whose lifetime achievements best exemplify the franchise system’s entrepreneurial spirit and highest quality standards.  

While having established individual careers in the travel industry, Rebecca Naugler, Kathy Davig and Elizabeth Ranger began preparing to form their own travel agency called “Avenues of Travel,” in 1984. Shortly thereafter, they had the opportunity to purchase another local agency, Goli Travel Service, which had been in business since 1949. The two companies came together as one to be known thereafter as Goli’s Avenues of Travel. In 1992, they joined the franchise network that would ultimately become Travel Leaders.

For more than three decades, the women successfully guided their business through major travel industry changes while maintaining their focus on their clients, along with staff growth and development.  By embracing training and travel specializations, their agency now boasts sales that are five times greater than in its early years and it has been among the Top 15 women-owned businesses in the state of Wisconsin (based on sales volume) for 10 consecutive years. 

In addition to today’s Golden Legacy award, Naugler, Davig, and the recently-retired Ranger were also among just 23 Travel Leaders agencies nationally honored with the franchise organization’s “Agency of Excellence” award.

Travel Leaders Associates’ “Business Travel Center of Excellence” to Offer Virtual Payments for Member TMCs

In corporate travel news, the Business Travel Center of Excellence from Travel Leaders Associates is now offering member agencies a virtual payment network that Travel Leaders said will provide an opportunity to improve cost-savings and increase policy compliance for their corporate clients while reducing fraud and simplifying employee reimbursement processes, as well as strengthen client retention. 

Virtual payment processing is similar to that provided by traditional credit cards, except the virtual cards provide a one-time use 16-digit card number for a specific dollar amount. The virtual payments can be used with specific online and phone transactions, travel-related expenses such as hotel bookings, and payments where physical cards are not needed. In fact, there is no actual plastic card issued for this process, thus providing an extra layer of security compared with traditional credit card products, Travel Leaders said.

Other advantages to using the virtual payment processing network include, but are not limited to:

  • Automated credit card authorization sent to hotels will be integrated with the card and the GDS.
  • Increases in travel policy compliance, as well as hotel attachment rate, by decreasing renegade spending, because the virtual card will only be able to be utilized if the air or hotel booking is booked through Travel Leaders.
  • Through an auto-pay option, the card (and the automated hotel credit card authorization) will be integrated with one’s existing expense management service. This is crucial as a high percentage of corporate bookings are completed online.