Travel Leaders Network hosted the Toronto leg of its 2017 Canadian Regionals at Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel & Conference Centre last night, welcoming 130 registered agents and 39 suppliers to the annual conference.
The conference centred around the theme of ‘Stay in the Lead,’ a direct follow-up to the 2016 conference motif of Taking the Lead. A busy day saw Travel Leaders Network provide essential member updates in the early afternoon, followed by front line agent training and owner manager training, a power speaker session and sponsor presentation, and finally a supplier partner trade show, networking reception and dinner.
Christine James, vice president – Canada, TL Network, told PAX that this year’s conference theme was apt, given the success enjoyed by the company under newly-merged status in 2017. “We really feel that the integration of the three brands which took place in January… has really helped our members to stay in the lead,” she commented.
“The bookings have held, the booking trend has held, so it’s been a very good year, and 2018, looking forward, is also a very healthy year.”
James highlighted the continuing success of the mobile-friendly website www.CanadianTravelAgents.ca and its lead generation tool, Agent Profiler, noting that agents have benefited enormously from the team of professional writers on hand to maximize the effectiveness of their profile and biography.
The website, she said, has delivered over 2,500 leads, with the average booking from these leads coming in at around $4,700.
The website is completely free to use, with Agent Profiler 2.0 – which allows agents to create multiple profiles tailored to diverse areas of specialty – also available for an additional $15 a month.
James also encouraged the travel trade to keep its eyes peeled for the repurposed Vacation.com URL – branded as Vacation – which will bring consumers through the buying process with a series of personalized travel questions, before delivering them to one of the company’s members. The program is still in its beta phase, with the full launch expected sometime in 2018.
In addition to the Toronto leg of its regional conference, the company also hosted its Young Professionals event this week, aimed at easing the transition of young members into the industry. “One of the challenges that our members shared with us wasn’t so much how to get new business… but it’s how to attract the new agents into the agency,” James revealed.
“We’re creating a forum where young professionals can network and exchange best practices with like-minded individuals that fit that demographic. They’re very enthusiastic, they’re savvy, they’re smart.”
The Young Professionals event was also devised to address developing trends in the travel industry. “Millennials are surpassing the baby boomers in spending, and how many trips they’re taking,” James added, “so we need to be able to have agents who can speak to that demographic. We notice a lot of the younger agents that are coming into the market, and we want to be able… to support that new demographic.”
The Toronto stop was the second in the company’s 2017 Canadian regionals, with the conferences kicking off on Tuesday night in Markham – an occasion that saw 75 agents and 39 exhibitors in attendance.
James said that the reaction of suppliers and agents alike to the series of conferences – which are scheduled to roll into Calgary on Oct. 24 and Vancouver on Oct. 26 – proved their full value.
“[In Markham] I walked and spoke to every supplier, and they were so pleased,” she commented. “They couldn’t believe… when they came up to their booth to talk about their product or service, how engaged they [agents] were.
“I’m really proud of the engagement level.”