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Chances are that many people would be surprised to learn that some travel agents book more than $2 million in travel each year. The host agency Avoya Travel, on the other hand, has been leading the charge. Fresh from its 50th anniversary and its best year to date, Avoya has shown a continued commitment to developing its Independent Affiliates from great sales people with few clients to some of the most successful and busy travel agents in the business.
Last year, Avoya decided to focus more on its top producers, who were previously recognized in the Best of the Best group, made up of travel agents who sell more than $1 million in travel. Though this group continues to thrive, Avoya raised the bar with the President’s Circle, Independent Affiliates who sell more than $2 million in travel per year. Currently, there are 17 travel agents in the President’s Circle.
During a panel presentation with the President’s Circle held before Avoya’s gala celebration of its 50th anniversary as a family-owned travel agency, members repeated some of the main reasons that they have found continued success with Avoya, and why they have chosen to stay with the company.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Avoya Travel shared the day with top producing Independent Affiliates and supplier partners, such as Yana Gutierrez of American Express Vacations. // © 2014 Avoya Travel
Top producing Independent Affiliates (L to R): Diane Bower, Avis Leeper, Michael Weinstein and wife Nancy Weinstein // © 2014 Avoya Travel
The 50th anniversary party for Avoya Travel was filled with personal touches. // © 2014 Avoya Travel
The Anderson family celebrated the golden anniversary of Avoya Travel near its Vista, Calif., headquarters. // © 2014 Avoya Travel
Co-presidents Brad and Van Anderson with parents and Avoya Travel founders, Pat and Pal Anderson // © 2014 Avoya Travel
Independent affiliates Sue and Ernie Ratliff (left) with Chuck and Nysie Campione // © 2014 Avoya Travel
Edie Bornstein, Carmen Roig and Scott Knutson were among the supplier partners at the event. // © 2014 Avoya Travel
Everyone raved about Avoya’s award-winning Live Leads program, which regularly wins top awards from suppliers for generating new business. To receive these leads, Avoya invests millions of dollars in consumer marketing, which includes Web, social, direct mail and email campaigns, including a close partnership with Google, which has been a major component of Avoya’s online marketing strategy.
Independent Affiliates have access to Live Leads 24/7 by phone, Internet and even text message with Avoya’s patent-pending technology, Agent Power. Each year, the program generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Agents like it because it takes the marketing out of their workflow, and allows them to sell.
“Avoya is for really good travel agents who want to get out of the marketing business,” said Scott Koepf, senior vice president of sales at Avoya Travel. “We are not looking for brand-new people. We have a path to recommend to them, but we’re not a franchise that teaches people how to be a travel agent.”
Avoya begins with the good, but it does not stop there. At the end of 2012, Avoya launched the Mastermind Program to help increase sales potentials for Independent Agencies. Tammie Richie, Avoya Mastermind program manager, personally motivates business development with Avoya agents through one-on-one coaching. In the last year, sales have been up 64 percent from the Best of the Best group and 113 percent with the President’s Circle.
Tammie is part of an uptick in new hires at Avoya, which is actively growing its departments. In 2013, departments that grew included business development (75 percent), promotions (60 percent), groups (40 percent), e-commerce (60 percent) and customer service (65 percent). The company is in the process of publicly announcing its recent executive promotions and new hires, including a new vice president of marketing, Sam McCully. According to Avoya, more new hires are on the way for 2014.
With more man power, Avoya has been able to focus on increasing sales across the board. In 2013, sales were up in Avoya’s top product, cruise, by 25 percent as well as for hotel (28 percent), air (49 percent), car (59 percent) and tour (58 percent). Since 2008, average sales have increased by 57 percent.
“A lot of people only weathered the last few years,” said Jeff Anderson, executive vice president at Avoya Travel. “We were relishing.”