One week after the launch of Debut Voyages, PAX sat down in Vancouver with Samantha Jervis, managing director, to discuss more about the premise of the company and its business model.
PAX: Congratulations on the launch of Debut Voyages - although it has just been one week, how is everything going so far?
SJ: Thank you! I am so excited and thrilled about this new venture. We’ve actually had a lot of interest since our launch, which is very positive, and I’m already in conversations with a few potential agents interested in joining Debut Voyages as an independent affiliate.
PAX: Let’s start from the beginning - how did the idea of Debut Voyages come about?
SJ: Morris Chia - the founder of International Agency Services (IAS) and also founder of Travel Professionals International(TPI), saw the rise in luxury travel and the need for advisors to focus on this segment of the market. He wanted to create an exclusive network in which independent luxury advisors can have access to solid supplier relationships, high commission levels, front and back end support to help them focus on achieving their goals. No one else is doing this in Canada. I’ve known Morris for several years through my previous roles in the luxury travel industry so I was truly honoured that he approached me to work on developing Debut Voyages together.
PAX: What is the relationship between IAS, TPI and Debut Voyages?
SJ: It’s important to understand that all three companies are separate entities, with their own business models. IAS is our parent company that has been providing back-office support services to travel agencies since 1994. TPI is a Virtuoso-affiliated host agency for independent travel advisors. Debut Voyages will be a network of independent advisors – we are calling them Travel Designers - who specialize in luxury travel sales. It’s also important to clarify that Debut Voyages is not a part of TPI - we are sister companies and are run completely separate. Travel Designers who join Debut Voyages do not have to join TPI, nor are they affiliated with them, and vice versa.
PAX: Travel Designers is a interesting title. Can you elaborate on that?
SJ: Travel advisors working at the luxury level are more than just counsellors, they help plan customized experiences for their discerning clients. Whether they are putting together a luxury FIT trip, cruise or resort stay, in reality they are really designing the perfect itinerary for their clients, hence I feel it is a very appropriate title.
PAX: What do you mean by “Invitation Only” when it comes to joining Debut Voyages – how do you select your candidates and where would they be coming from?
SJ: Luxury sellers interested in joining Debut Voyages will meet certain qualifications and criteria which include an existing book of luxury business and high revenue production. Full details will be provided during a confidential conversation with the candidate and we will consider each individual’s experience and potential. “Invitation only” does not mean we are actively recruiting. We want to attract the very best, and in order to do that, we have to have a certain criteria for them to meet. Anyone that feels they may qualify and is interested in joining Debut Voyages can contact us to start a conversation and we go from there.
PAX: What are some of the advantages of joining Debut Voyages?
SJ: Debut Voyages Travel Designers will have access to Virtuoso benefits, including higher commission tiers, specially negotiated rates and exclusive amenities from an extensive list of luxury preferred suppliers. On the back end, Debut Voyages will provide operational support, such as accounting, invoicing support and access to GDS. We look after the back-office administration which allows the Travel Designer to focus on providing the best products and services for their clients. On the front end, we will provide guidance, sales and marketing tips, and the Virtuoso relationship advantages to help them grow their business. Last, but definitely not least, we do not have a commission split - our Travel Designers retain 100 per cent of the commission earned on every sale. They simply pay a monthly fee as a Debut Voyages Independent Travel Designer. In the end, it’s all about putting more money back in their pocket!
PAX: How can interested agents contact you?
SJ: I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 647-725-3127. We also have a website at www.debutvoyages.com that agents can visit to learn more about our business model and look at some of the FAQs.