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General public, take note: It’s no longer appropriate to ask, “Are travel agents still a thing?”
Within the last year and a half, particularly, the growth of the travel agent industry has skyrocketed, with many agencies and consortia reporting record growth in new employees or members, especially in the number of new-to-industry advisors.
Avoya Travel is one company reaping the benefits of this boom. The family-owned marketing and travel technology company saw double-digit sales increases for 2017 — with gross sales of $410 million — and triple-digit growth in the number of Independent Agencies (IAs) in the Avoya Network. The organization celebrated these successes, among others, at its 11th annual Avoya Conference, where it hosted IAs in the Avoya Network, industry leaders, supplier partners, support staff and media from May 23-27 at Hotel Maya in Long Beach, Calif.
“We are radically outperforming this year’s marks we were trying to hit,” said Jeff Anderson, executive vice president for Avoya.
According to Steve Hirshan, senior vice president of sales support for Avoya, the number of new IAs brought on in 2017 versus 2016 was more than double — and this year so far has already seen more than double new IAs than in 2017.
These milestone achievements are part of the catalyst for the company’s new Avoya 2025 plan, which Anderson unveiled during the conference’s opening session. With this five-phase road map, Avoya aims to become the No. 1 vacation platform by 2025.
“This is our Mars shot: our reference point and bold vision for the future,” Anderson said.
The plan, which will roll out in five phases from June through November 2025, has four main objectives: to build deeper relationships with Avoya partners (such as suppliers, IAs, technology partners and more); to inspire everyone to explore more; to create life-giving technologies (i.e., to create efficient and effective strategies that give everyone more time back in their lives); and to provide distinct experiences for Avoya travelers.
During Phase One, which will carry through November 2019, Avoya plans to connect more travelers with IAs; increase communication and business intelligence sharing between suppliers and IAs in the Avoya Network; and streamline efficiencies so that members can spend more time booking travel.
One of the ways in which Avoya is implementing this first phase is by increasing its members’ access to education; a new partnership with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) allows new-to-industry advisors affiliating with the Avoya Network to join CLIA at Avoya’s member rate and take a series of CLIA courses before affiliation. Additionally, Avoya has restructured and expanded its Avoya Mastermind Academy program; enhanced its Agent Power technology; and provided members with more access to sales intelligence so that they can better service customers and grow sales.
This is our Mars shot: our reference point and bold vision for the future.
Along with upgrades for its members, Avoya is expanding its supplier partnerships to expand to new markets and grow its portfolio in the all-inclusive resort space. Additionally, Avoya is working to create more ways for IAs to connect with travelers and personalize content and experiences. Overall, a large goal is to create more of a community for all those that the Avoya Network touches, whether it’s connecting IAs directly with suppliers; giving customers more intimate, customized experiences with IAs; or giving IAs more resources to maximize their time and grow their businesses.
“It’s really important for us to be stewards of people, first and foremost, and great members of the global community as a whole,” Anderson said.
Additional highlights of the conference included a Caribbean-themed night, hosted by Royal Caribbean International; a cocktail party at the refurbished Long Beach Cruise Terminal, hosted by Carnival Cruise Line; a Great Gatsby-themed gala onboard Queen Mary; and a sailing onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss for IAs, Avoya staff and suppliers.
“This year’s Avoya Conference was special because we could celebrate our record-setting accomplishments in sales and Avoya Network growth, while also introducing our bold vision for the future that charts the course to increasing success for all Avoya stakeholders,” Anderson said. “We are intentionally positioned for change and feel there is nothing out of our reach.”
The DetailsAvoya Travelwww.avoyatravel.com