Signature Travel Network held its 2006 Summer Forum in Los
Angeles August, 19. In a combination of lectures and trade show,
agents were able to meet and learn about 280 of Signature’s partner
hotels, resorts, luxury and specialty travel companies.
To begin the day’s events, Ignacio Maza, executive VP of
Signature announced the recent changes and improvements to the
network since their show in January. The first announcement was the
company’s growth, with the addition of over 320 properties
worldwide. Eighty of these are new hotels and resorts, each
offering exclusive privileges and special rates to the network’s
clients. New properties that were highlighted include the Mandarin
Oriental New York, Montage Resort in California, La Casa que Canta
in Mexico, Rocco Forte Brown’s Hotel in London and the spectacular
Oberoi hotels and resorts in India.
In continued efforts to build new preferred supplier
relationships, Signature has added the expertise of Exeter
International, the leader for Eastern Europe and Russia travel;
JDB, the respected FIT company; and Keith Prowse, the top purveyor
for theatre tickets, shows and events worldwide.
After outlining the network’s growth Maza addressed the audience
of agents, reminding them of their unique position in the travel
marketplace and stating that their success hinges on knowing their
customers, knowing the products and constantly sharpening their
“The knowledge that you have [about your client] nobody can take
away from you, and no one can duplicate or replicate, not the
internet, not Expedia, no one can” said Maza.
He continued to call out for agents to be their clients
advocate, stating that today’s consumer is bombarded with
information and it is the agent’s responsibility to navigate
through it with the knowledge of what your client truly wants.
Following Maza’s remarks, Chris Austin, vice president of Global
Customer Partnerships - Leisure and Luxury Sales from Starwood
Hotels and Resorts presented the recent improvements, additions and
changes in the marketing campaigns for his properties. The biggest
and most crowd pleasing of his announcements was the addition of
the chic but affordable Aloft hotel brand.
The main lecture came to a close as keynote Larry Pimentel,
president and CEO of SeaDream Yacht Club, presented ‘The Mindset of
the New Affluent Consumer’. He informed agents on the different
characteristics and buying habits of the wealthy. He stressed that
financial success could be gained by seeking out and servicing
these rare customs and eliminating the bulk of an agent’s lesser
paying clientele. Doing more for less people was his call to
Upon the conclusion of the general lecture agents were invited
to attend any of the eight different workshops on subjects such as
successful selling strategies for the luxury market, designing
exceptional itineraries, using Signature’s intranet tools and
building sales with Signature’s Hotel and Destination Specialist
programs and to meet with any of the over 280 supplier partners on
the main showroom floor.
At the end of the event Signature hoped to continue the day’s
success and announced plans for its 2007 annual Sales Meeting,
which is to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on