“CommuniTI,” says Travel Impressions’ new president Scott Wiseman, is about “all of us having the same philosophy. [Travel Impressions is] 100 percent dedicated to the agent and I love that. We listen to the voice of the client [travel agents], and we are working together in harmony.” Wiseman was speaking to a ballroom of travel agents during this past weekend’s 21st annual Best of the Best conference, which took place at Secrets Playa Mujeres Resort & Spa Cancun in Mexico and which focuses on the theme of “CommuniTI.” He focused on this sense of community by also pointing out that the Travel Impressions “team is built on great knowledge.” In fact, Wiseman noted during a press conference that with him at the helm, it’s “important we get the connection back with the team. Employees have to feel valued.” And according to travel advisor Tom Varghese, owner of Travel Tom, Wiseman himself brings a unique quality to the agent-dedicated tour operator. “He is bringing in a different perspective to a very established organization,” Varghese told me following the general session. “He listens, which is very important.”
Wiseman definitely struck a chord with the audience as he explained the array of enhancements and programs Travel Impressions had recently rolled out and was set to roll out in early 2017.
Most noteworthy is Travel Impressions University, the organization’s new travel agent academy that is launching in January 2017 and which agents can complete at their own pace. Benefits include three CEU credits, a certificate of completion, LoyalTI First bonus points, sneak peek of sales, first priority for TI FAMs, graduate-exclusive FAM trip opportunities, a listing on the Certified Graduates page, inclusion in the annual Honor Roll in The Travel Insider newsletter, digital signature/logo/banner, and special access to an enhanced marketing library (the latter, however, is still in development).
Another important initiative is the TIPRO distribution system, set to launch in Beta form in January for select travel agents. The system, noted Wiseman, “will be one that can constantly be developed.” This as opposed to creating version 1, 2, 3 and so on of Quest. “Quest [the original reservation system] simply wasn’t good enough,” said Wiseman during the general session. TIPRO will have greater speed, accuracy, and reliability. It will have self-service modifications, which gives agents the ability to make edits. It will have Destination Vacation Flights (DVFs) seat selection, and pre-paid baggage on DVFs. There will also be a charter availability calendar, availability alerts, enhanced filters and as the team noted, “more to come.”
Travel Impressions has also made a commitment to the West Coast with Dedicated Vacation Flights to Hawaii from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Oahu (HNL); Kahului, Maui (OGG); Kona, Hawaii Island (KOA); and Lihue, Kauai (LIH). Additionally, five BDMs will be in place in California starting this January. Travel Impressions is also implementing a Destination Weddings Calendar that will provide agents with real-time availability at top partners such as Karisma, AMResorts, Palace, Hilton, Jewels, and Couples, as well as several boutique properties including Saint Lucia’s Bay Gardens and Bougainvillea Beach Resort in Barbados. The calendar will be sorted by region and destination, and there’ll be instant answers, real-time results and property-specific details and videos when available. Travel Impressions has also populated the system with several design templates, so agents merely have to input the information or steer clients to a link where they can customize their nuptial’s web portal with their own touch.
Additionally, the LoyalTI First program, in which active members earn points for every booking, will be upgraded and they’ll be throwing in some travel rewards—this got a huge positive response from the audience.
Peter Bowler, president of distribution for Apple Leisure Group, also spoke during the general session, and noted that Travel Impressions is key to Apple Leisure Group’s future. He pointed out that Travel Impressions’ client mix has little overlap with Apple Vacations, and that Travel Impressions’ 100 percent B2B focus reflects the company’s belief that travel agents will always be critical to success in selling all-inclusive packages to Mexico, Caribbean, and Central America.
For more information, visit travimp.com.