This week, Recommend attended Vacation.com’s 18th annual International Conference and Trade Show, which had approximately 1,300 travel agents in attendance. The conference, which was themed “Connect More,” introduced agents to new or improved ways to better connect with their clients.
Agent Snapshot, which launched in June 2015, now has over 2,200 member bios in its system. This tool has helped agents by connecting them to prospective clients and has generated about 35,000 client leads so far. By using this tool, Vacation.com members and their agents create bios of themselves and their agency, which can then be accessed by travelers to help them find the agent who is perfect for their travel needs. In a press release statement, John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Franchise, Leisure Group, and Vacation.com, says, “…the growth of Agent Snapshot has helped reshape how travel agents are perceived by the traveling pubic. One of the biggest challenges that today’s leisure distribution channel faces is connecting the online consumer with an offline expert, and I believe that Agent Snapshot is successfully proving it can bridge the gap and generate quality leads for our members.”
During a press briefing Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer for Travel Leaders Group, noted that out of about 5,500 members, you can find every business model in the room, from the “whales” who are making big bookings, to the ones who are starting out, and every one in between. He also mentioned that one agent asked to have her bio removed from the site because she couldn’t keep up with the leads she was receiving—she had 125 leads. That sounds like the kind of problem most agents would like to have.
During the conference, Vacation.com also announced new features to its agency technology program, AgentMate. This program has been designed as a fully integrated travel agency business operating system featuring a communications management solution, including automated and customized client messaging, as well as an AgentMate app for smartphones. The app allows members to have access to the system and all of the client’s information at all times.
During the press briefing, Lovell added that AgentMate “is bringing the technology; more efficiency; and more productivity.” Kevin Weisner, senior vice president of sales for Vacation.com, added that “things were not efficient and were time-consuming. AgentMate came in and changed the environment.”
The AgentMate system was originally developed for Cruise Holidays agencies, which are now members within Vacation.com, and became available to all Vacation.com members earlier this year. The system was originally unveiled in 1994 as an invoice and accounting package for non-GDS agencies, and is now an all-encompassing agency technology solution featuring a fully integrated CRM system, an agency-facing booking tool, a lead management system, and a group module, plus it can also manage dual currency in the same invoice. But this isn’t the end of where AgentMate can go. Jose Ferreira, chief technology officer for Travel Leaders Franchise, Leisure Group and Vacation.com, added that they are currently working to create booking programs as well.
Currently, there are about 300 agencies using the fully integrated CRM system and that number is expected to reach about 400 by the end of the year. However this isn’t a program that an agent can decide they want, sign up, and start using tomorrow. As Lovell mentioned, “There’s a methodical training implementation for an agent to start using it.” Meaning, agents will be trained and coached along the way, plus they need to be implemented into the system as well before they’re set to go. For more information, visit vacation.com.