The success of its agent certification program in early 2017 and the launch of a brand-new website offer clear signs of encouragement as TL Network embarks on its first year under newly-merged status.
That was the message of company executives in attendance at a press luncheon held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto.
While reflecting on often-turbulent times in the travel industry during 2016, vice-president Christine James highlighted the results of a recent survey conducted by TL Network Canada into its booking trends for 2017, in which more than 77 per cent of agents surveyed stated overall bookings to be equal to or higher than the same time last year; a full 82.2 per cent of agents surveyed, meanwhile, were optimistic about the coming year. “We’re also pleased to see that Europe is notching upwards,” added Roger Block, the company’s president.
James also noted that 337 Canadian agents have already enrolled in the company’s certification programmes, with a further 104 pending.
Central to TL Network’s vision for the Canadian market is its new, mobile-friendly website www.CanadianTravelAgents.ca, featuring the lead generation tool Agent Profiler.
Recognizing that consumers often seek a travel agent with expertise in a certain type of holiday, the company sought to introduce a method of allowing customers to find the best agent for their needs by selecting from a full-range of destinations, travel specialities and other options; the result is described by Chief Technology Officer Jose Ferreira as "a focused URL which is extremely relevant to Canadian consumers."
Its early success, Ferreira said, had already resulted in an average close rate of 25 per cent from website leads. Crucially, it also allows an agent to create separate profiles if he or she has expertise in more than one type of destination.
Speaking to PAX after the luncheon, James noted the enthusiasm generated by the merger among Vacation.com employees. “I’ve been at the company for 18 years, and there is certainly an emotional attachment to the Vacation.com brand,” she commented.
“However, since the launch, we are seeing a very positive response. Our members are now seeing and experiencing the benefits. The launch of the CanadianTravelAgent.ca website, in particular, is a very good thing for the members.”
James also reaffirmed her commitment to the company’s Canadian members in the wake of the merger. “I’m a big advocate for our Canadian membership,” she said. “A lot of programs that resided in the franchise world are mostly geared to U.S. agents, with U.S. content, since the franchise division doesn’t exist in the Canadian marketplace. But we’ve worked behind the scenes to make sure that when we delivered it to our Canadian membership, it had Canadian relevance and Canadian content.”
The company also announced that spots are still up for grabs for TL Network Canada members to attend the 2017 International Summit in New Zealand from March 17 – 19, 2017, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“By attending this year’s International Summit, our TL Network Members will enjoy very unique experiences that can greatly enhance their knowledge on New Zealand, which will translate into even more informed customers,” said Block.