Building a Power Team

A travel agent’s success can depend on finding loyal and supportive business partners

By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West

I've probably spent too much time this month watching the NCAA basketball tournament, but I just love seeing fans from so many different schools around the country going crazy in support of their universities. As I read this issue’s cover story, “We Pledge Allegiance” (page 12), I couldn’t help but think of March Madness fans and their commitment to their teams. Seeing what seems like reasonable men and women go absolutely bonkers over a ball game is a true lesson in the power of loyalty. As you’ll read in this issue, developing loyalty is a major goal of travel agent recognition programs.

“Everyone loves recognition and acknowledgement,” said Jennifer Campbell, director of agency services for Virtuoso, in the story. “It’s smart for suppliers to reward advisors for their loyalty.”

It’s not a surprise that it seems like the same organizations are constantly reaching out to the agent community — offering new rewards, education programs, fam trips and more. The companies you read about most in trade publications, that are working with your consortia, that are present at industry events and who come to visit your office are truly the most supportive of agents. Some suppliers would like to present themselves as travel agent supporters — and might in fact have nothing against agents — but their support is an afterthought at best. 

When it comes to determining who deserves your business, my advice is to trust your instincts. You can tell the difference between companies that truly appreciate your business and the ones paying you lip service. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of every incentive or bonus you can get when it comes to your bookings, but be sure to create your own list of partners that you truly trust and prefer to work with, and spend time developing those relationships. In the long run, those are the companies you want in your corner.

Remember: Loyalty works both ways. It’s in your best interest to support those companies that truly support you. That way, everyone wins.