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Travel Impressions' (TI) 2016 Best of the Best (BOTB) conference was exciting for many reasons. First, the dynamic industry-leading wholesaler is in full growth mode — expanding on the West Coast by adding five new business development managers while simultaneously raising the bar for the quality and variety of East Coast products. And Scott Wiseman, the company's new CEO, took the opportunity to announce new initiatives, products — such as the TI Pro booking engine — technology and improvements to TI's most popular existing programs and tools.
We got the scoop from Wiseman on his vision for the company and how he plans to continue its successful trajectory while ensuring equal success for agency partners.
What's your overarching strategy as the new CEO of TI?I have a multi-touchpoint strategy. It has been a little while since I've been a rookie, so part of what I'm focusing on is getting the connection back with the team. I need to understand what they do and reinforce their feeling of being valued.
The second part of that is ensuring that we meet our role within the Apple Leisure Group family: providing high-end, high-quality travel experiences, being the ultimate intermediary between agent and supplier and growing without overlapping into other brands.
What programs should advisors tap into when looking to book clients who are not in the group sector?They should look at the Sunshine Spotlight product collection for quick getaways to Florida, as well as Island Vibes, which highlights the lesser-known Caribbean. Steal of a Deal offers dramatically discounted land and air packages that are available for a limited time but open for booking up to 10 months in advance. We also have Unique Boutiques, a collection of smaller properties that offer a more immersive and transformational experience.
Tell us more about Travel Impressions University, a new program that was previewed at BOTB.Our mandate on this is "EducaTIon First." And this new education program, launching in beta this month, offers a self-paced digital way for agents to get educated on TI's vast global portfolio of vacation experiences, from destinations to services.
Agents can earn Continuing Education Unit credits for a three-chapter online course that may take just a few hours to complete. They'll earn LoyalTI First bonus points, get a sneak peek at sales, have special access to an enhanced marketing library, find exclusive fam trip opportunities and, later on, receive social media skills training. This expands on our continuing programs that include interactive webcasts, the #WeekendLearning Series and the Dimension Series, which encompasses dozens of presentations highlighting Caribbean properties.
What groups should agents be targeting using TI tools?This year, we aim to go beyond destination weddings, offering agents the ability to customize leisure groups that are commemorating a milestone birthday, an anniversary, a family reunion, a bachelorette party or other event. More than 19 percent of our business consists of groups, largely in Mexico and the Caribbean, and we want to give agents the ability to build a travel experience for all special occasion groups the same way they do with wedding parties.