TravelAge West 2008 Trendsetters Awards

TravelAge West salutes the best travel agents in the West By: Kenneth Shapiro

Best of the Best

Best Single Sales Effort

Steve Orens
Jason Coleman

Best Travel Agency Website

All-Travel.com
America's Vacation Center

Best Travel Agent Cheerleader

Paula Mitchell Manning
Chris Russo

Past Winners

View the winners of the TravelAge West 2007 Trendsetters Awards

Best Single Sales Effort

Steve Orens
Plaza Travel

The Trendsetter Award for Best Single Sales Promotion Effort went to Steve Orens, vice president of Plaza Travel in Encino, Calif.

Orens kept close to home for his agency’s award-winning sales promotion last December. Deciding that too few people in his office complex even knew the agency was there, Orens created a Holiday Lobby Travel Show where he partnered with four cruise lines, two tour operators, a car rental company and a travel insurance company. Orens held the event during lunch hours, serving a different food item at each booth and in just two hours, the agency saw more than 200 people and total sales from this event were close to $100,000 within the first week alone.


Jason Coleman
Bon Tour Travel (Runner-up)

Coleman’s sales promotion took place last September, when he hosted a cruise night onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Pearl. Coleman arranged for a one-night cruise to nowhere and invited a targeted group of 50 entertainment-industry publicists, with the goal being to create “fan” group cruises for their clients. Publicists were met by representatives from cruise lines, including Carnival, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, NCL and Princess, and events included everything from a red-carpet dinner to a trade show promoting group cruising.

Coleman reported increased cruise bookings from the publicists’ clients, fans and from the publicists themselves.


Best Travel Agency Website

The Best Travel Agency Web site award recognized agencies with outstanding Web sites that display technological savvy and cultivate client relationships.

All-Travel.com
By utilizing its 10 Web sites, Trendsetter Award winner All-Travel.com has risen to become one of the premier agencies in the West. In 2007, the All-Travel.com site alone generated 400,000 site visitors and 1.3 million page views. More than 90 percent of all new business is delivered via one of the agency sites, which is manned by a staff of four.

All-Travel has also developed a close-knit relationship with its clients; its Wedding/Honeymoon Registry features authentic photos from the All-Travel staff and customers. In 2007, All-Travel also started a Travel Blog and put up specific pages with destination, city-specific and activity information.


America's Vacation Center (Runner-up)
San Diego-based America’s Vacation Center (AVC) uses its Web site for two primary goals: to provide a high level of customer service for its customers; and to generate more sales leads for its agents.

Its site, which is updated and monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, generates nearly 80 percent of the company’s new business revenue. Using cutting-edge, fully integrated, customized technology, AVC seamlessly integrates the consumer’s online experience while providing its Independent Affiliate agents with information they can use to turn viewers into bookers. 


Best Travel Agent Cheerleader

The award for Best Travel Agent Cheerleader honors agents who have given their time and energy to help the greater travel agent community, and worked to promote all agents to the traveling public.

Paula Mitchell Manning
Call Lynn 2 Travel

Winner Paula Mitchell Manning is a home-based agent in Los Angeles and co-owner of Call Lynn 2 Travel. In addition to being a full-time agent, Paula is also the director of the Los Angeles chapter of OSSN. Paula told TravelAge West that the goal of her chapter is not only to be a “safe place for the exchange of information and ideas,” but to improve agents’ knowledge of what’s in their own backyard. Manning began partnering with local nonprofit art and theater groups around town to host chapter events. Combining her love for nonprofits with travel, Paula also founded a new division of her agency called Hope Floats Travel, which focuses on fundraising trips.

Manning’s creative approach has helped ensure the long-term success of home-based and small agency professionals.


Chris Russo
Travel Partners (Runner-up)

Chris Russo, owner of Travel Partners in Denver, was inspired to make a difference in the industry after speaking with a former American Society of Travel Agents president who told him he could either keep complaining about the industry or do something about it. Russo chose to make a difference, and today, he promotes the travel agency profession and encourages potential agents by speaking at conferences, attending student career fairs and being involved with ASTA’s Young Professionals Society, where he is a past chairman and currently serves as an advisor.

  

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