“Building Bridges” was the theme of the 10th-annual CoNexion conference. // © 2016 Emma Weissmann
Feature image (above): Nexion executives took to the stage during the conference’s first general session. // © 2016 Emma Weissmann
Nexion members were challenged to “build bridges” toward better relationships and better business opportunities during the 10th annual CoNexion conference, which took place Sept. 14-17 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, Calif.
During the host agency’s conference, which included four days of workshops, general sessions, panel discussions and networking sessions, approximately 400 travel agents and nearly 200 suppliers came together to generate sales leads and learn about several new technology and marketing initiatives from Nexion. Tara Russell, president of Fathom, and Stuart Cohen, chief motivation officer of The Travel Institute, delivered keynote addresses.
Following are the top takeaways from this year’s conference.
Changes in Technology
Nexion agents already have a wealth of tools at their disposal. These include hotel-booking platform pinSight from parent company Travel Leaders Group’s Hotel Division; Snap! for air bookings; and CruisePro for managing cruise sales from sister company Vacation.com.
And the agent tool kit will continue to expand, thanks to an extensive technology overhaul that was announced last year. According to Robbi Hamida, vice president for Nexion, agent members will soon see a new customizable agent portal called myNexion, which will replace the current WebView portal.
The purpose of myNexion, which will roll out in early 2017, is to give agents “the best chance to do the best with their customers,” according to Hamida. In addition to providing targeted messaging based on their specializations, myNexion will aid in monitoring business and will feature customizable widgets, new dashboard design and the integration of the aforementioned agent booking tools.
“We want people to say this is ‘my’ Nexion,” Hamida said. “We want to get the right information to the right agent, at the right time. With about 3,700 agent members, we have a lot of different types of agents, and we want to make sure we’re doing our best to accommodate each one.”
Additionally, advisors will begin to see enhancements to NexionTown, a social networking community that allows members to collaborate and trade ideas with each other, such as hotel recommendations and business tips.
Transition to Travel Leaders Network
Additional changes are on the horizon for agents once Nexion’s parent company Travel Leaders Group finishes the consolidation of Vacation.com, Results! Travel and Travel Leaders Associates to become the all-new Travel Leaders Network (TLN). The new consortium, which will launch Jan. 1, 2017, will offer added benefits for Nexion agents, according to Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion.
“Whenever there’s a change, people ask, ‘What does this mean for me?’” Friedman said. “And whenever there’s that change, we have to communicate often and always. We will continue to communicate with them that, the fact is, there is no downside and a lot of upside. There’s just going to be more things on the Nexion buffet for them to choose.”
“Buffet” items accessible to Nexion agents will include many of the Vacation.com tools already available to them, including the Engagement marketing platform and Agent Snapshot communication and sales lead tool, which will be renamed “Agent Profiler” once TLN launches.
“We’re telling our members that we’ve taken the expertise and programs only available to some agents [in the company], and those are going to be much more widely available to them,” Friedman said. “I don’t think there are any concerns, but I think there are questions, and we’ll continue to communicate with them.”
Niche Training and Events
Nexion, which has just shy of 3,700 members, has been growing steadily in the past few years, according to Friedman. Because of this, the host agency is seeing an increasing number of agents who specialize, leading host agency execs to focus on the network’s individual communities.
Nexion has identified five trending market segments that are growing at an accelerated rate among members: group sales; luxury travel; corporate travel; romance; and marketing and sales.
The agency has developed specialized travel summits in the remainder of the year and into 2017 to help agents hone their skills in the various markets and “distinguish themselves from mass market agencies,” said Cris de Souza, vice president of marketing for Nexion.
“At Nexion, our No. 1 goal is to equip our agents with expert market segment knowledge so they can sharpen their business focus,” she said. “We believe these summits will add enormous value; offer a keen understanding of the target audience for specific market segments; and help identify the appropriate destination and product experience that will exceed each customer’s expectations and desires.”
The following multiday business development summits have been scheduled:
Group Travel Sales Summit: Oct. 7-9, 2016
Luxury Travel Sales Summit: Nov. 11-13, 2016 (by invitation only)
Corporate CoNexion: (June 9-11, 2017)
Romance Travel Sales Summit (Date TBA, 2017)
Marketing and Sales Summit (Date TBA, 2017)