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Protravel International is used to being on top.
At this year’s Virtuoso Travel Week, the travel agency took home the award as Virtuoso’s top-selling luxury travel agency member for the 14th year in a row. Approximately 150 Protravel employees attended the Las Vegas event in August — the largest contingent in its history.
And its West Coast presence is also strong — mostly in Southern California and Arizona — where the agency boasts six offices and about 280 advisors.
Becky Powell, president of Protravel, joined the company as COO in January. She was appointed president in May.
Powell says she is currently looking for ways to support the nearly 1,000 advisors in the Protravel network as the company continues to grow.
Here, Powell details Protravel’s latest initiatives and shares her thoughts on attracting a new wave of young, talented advisors.
How are you settling into your new role?When I came into the role, Protravel was looking for someone who understood the luxury market and the brand itself. Protravel felt like it had lost its identity.
Coming from nine years at Virtuoso, I had already worked with Protravel International and its advisors closely, so it made for a smooth transition.
What is in the works for Protravel?In 2019, we’ll release a new intranet platform and an advisor dashboard, which will allow our advisors to sign on to one platform and view all of their information in one place.
We’re also working on providing marketing tools for our advisors. We haven’t done a lot of business-to-customer marketing in the past, but we’re changing that now because we want to attract younger, millennial advisors.
For example, millennials like to use social media as a tool, but they may not understand which suppliers they should be promoting through their social media channels.
In fact, we’ve already rolled out marketing initiatives on the West Coast in three of our offices: Beverly Hills and San Diego in California and Scottsdale in Arizona.
Additionally, we’re bringing a lot of our resources out West: We’ve put advisor support in place, and we’ve hired a Los Angeles-based marketing manager. Don Jones, our senior vice president of West Coast Operations, oversees all of that. As for the rest of our offices, we’ll have the marketing initiatives in place by the year’s end.
What is the company’s growth strategy?We will evaluate agencies if we think they’re a fit for the brand. There are definitely markets that we should be in, like the northern part of the West Coast.
We are also evaluating whether we’ll need more physical offices or mobile meeting spaces. We still have quite a few advisors that come into the office, but as we evaluate new markets, we realize that it doesn’t make sense to have an office in every location.
For instance, our Beverly Hills office was recently renovated. As part of the renovation, we created a hotel space where advisors can show up and plug in for the day. We’re keeping telecommuting in mind.
Why should people pay attention to attracting millennial travel advisors, and what will they bring to the industry?Millennials are not afraid of anything. They are tech-savvy and mobile, too. We have one employee in New York who used to manage social media. She expressed interest in becoming an advisor, so we paired her up with another advisor for mentorship. She’s having a launch party soon, and she used social media to secure a sponsor and fill the party with influencers. It’s interesting to think of Instagram as a business strategy, but it really works.
Are you noticing new trends in the luxury travel market?It’s not about money anymore; rather, it’s about the experience. Clients are no longer asking to go to a specific place. Instead, clients are asking for experiences, including culinary and wellness travel, among others.
The DetailsProtravel Internationalwww.protravelinc.com