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TL Network welcomed a record-setting number of attendees to its annual EDGE Conference that took place in National Harbor, MD, back in June. EDGE, which stands for “Educate, Discover, Gather, Evolve,” hosted more than 2,100 advisors and industry professionals who took part in workshops, training sessions, supplier and guest speaker presentations, networking events, and the ever-popular tradeshow and hotel marketplaces. Here are our key takeaways from the 2019 EDGE Conference.
  

New advisor education program debuts

EDGE 2019 marked the debut of Travel Leaders Network – Professional Learning Path, a new customized approach to travel advisor education. Prior to arriving at EDGE, attendees completed an exercise (with input from their agency owner or manager) that assigned them to one of four designated tiers, therefore ensuring advisors were participating in programming most relevant to their experience level. Of the 210 workshops offered at EDGE 2019, more than 70 were created within the Professional Learning Path framework. TL Network will continue to offer segmented educational opportunities throughout the year.
 
KNOT’S TAKE: We love the thought that went into segmenting advisor education. We’ve seen a lot of one-sizefits-all workshops where the information is either too basic or too middle-of-the-road. In other instances, valuable information was simply too advanced for new advisors. In contrast, TL Network clearly outlined each program tier so advisors know exactly what to expect and where they’ll be going next. Member feedback has been strong, too. In casual conversations with Canadian EDGE attendees, one advisor told KNOT, “I really liked being in a room and bouncing ideas off other members who are at the same stage in their careers as I am.”  
  

Technology: Profiler Plus

Travel Leaders NetworkTravel Leaders Network

In 2013, TL Network launched Agent Profiler, a proprietary lead-generation tool that allows members to create a customized profile on travelleaders.com. Consumers can then filter profiles to select an advisor based on location, destination and specialization. Agent Profiler has proved a massive success. It generates hundreds of thousands of high-quality leads each year with members reporting a resulting average sale of $5,000 per transaction. Christine James, TL Network vice president, Canada, noted: “Members who have jumped on the bandwagon and have published a profile are seeing results. Every time I attend one of our events, I get members coming up to me saying something like, ‘I published my profile a few weeks ago and I just got a $10,000 booking.’ These really are quality leads we’re sending, and the more members who engage, the more success we will all see.” To support participation, TL Network assists advisors with writing profile bios and taking professional headshots.

This year’s EDGE Conference introduced an evolution of the Agent Profiler program: Profiler Plus. The launch of Profiler Plus enables advisors to build out their personal brand by posting videos and travel writing to their profile and listing destinations they’ve personally visited. In addition, a photo-posting feature means they can share their own travel photography or choose from an existing image library. 
  

KNOT’S TAKE: Advisors who take advantage of video and photo sharing will further set themselves apart, fostering a more personal, authentic and trusted connection with both clients and prospects. The ease with which profiles can be edited ensures advisors can make quick updates and then get back to selling.
  

#RealTalk: Sustainable Travel

During a media roundtable, Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko announced the insights and outcomes of an overtourism research study that was produced in partnership with New York University. NYU graduate students were tasked with creating an overtourism index to measure economic factors, accessibility, accommodation capacity, societal issues, environmental concerns, local community perceptions and the impact of media.
  

SOME INSIGHTS THAT MADE US THINK:

  • Fifty-six per cent of advisors surveyed have seen an increase in negative feedback from clients because of in-destination overtourism.
  • Destination marketing has almost been too successful, and many destinations are now drunk on economic success.
  • Negative consequences include pollution, climate change and the devastation of biodiversity, but also the socio-cultural costs of culture change, uncivilized behaviour, commodification of culture, increased costs of living and gentrification.
  • Media bears some responsibility due to the constant creation of bucket lists and “top 10 must-see” articles. Coverage is often hastily written and lazy in its variety, featuring reoccurring sites and hot spots.
  • Eco-destinations consumers are most concerned about: The Galápagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Iceland, Antarctica, U.S. national parks, Banff, New Zealand and South Africa.
  • Urban destinations consumers are most concerned about: Venice, Rome, Santorini, The Amalfi Coast, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Dubrovnik.

KNOT’S TAKE: This topic cannot be ignored. We salute TL Network for conducting this research study. Chacko spoke about challenging suppliers to create itineraries that include similar experiences as those seen on “top 10 lists,” but highlight off-thebeaten-path destinations. This roundtable has inspired Key Notes On Travel to cover the topic in greater depth and to include more voices. Expect to hear more about overtourism from us in the coming months and in the upcoming winter issue.

  

    
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