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Signature Travel Network's senior management team has completed a five-week, 10-city event dubbed a “listening tour.” The tour included a series of owner/member regional meetings followed by a full-day, boot camp-style training for frontline travel advisors. More than 90 percent of Signature's owner/members attended the meetings, and more than 1,000 travel consultants participated in the boot camps.
"Maintaining close ties with member/owners is one of Signature's greatest strengths," said Michelle Morgan, president and CEO. "It's important for the senior management team to know what's going on with our members, to listen and to understand how they are doing and, importantly, to identify what keeps them up at night."
Overall, the reports were positive. Member/owners in all geographic areas were optimistic about 2012 sales. The majority of owners stated that year-to-date sales were stronger than the year prior, and future sales for 2013 and 2014 were tracking at more than 20 percent ahead, compared to the same time last year. The luxury market was cited as the strongest segment. There were, of course, concerns expressed regarding external factors, including global economic conditions, the poor U.S. stock market performance and the upcoming elections. Industry related concerns centered on high airfares, supplier direct marketing and continued downward pressure on yields.
Boot camp workshops focused on four important disciplines: embracing technology, understanding today’s luxury traveler, customer service and marketing. Suppliers participating in the nationwide meetings included Classic Vacations, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Regent Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
Royal Caribbean International's Global Travel Agent Appreciation Day (when the cruise line's executives and staff saw more than 7,000 travel agents worldwide in one day) kicked off at Signature's Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Boot Camp on June 6. Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. surprised 150 frontline travel consultants, representing 35 Signature member agencies, to applaud them and express the company's commitment to the travel agent community.