Interested in the key trends and factors driving the travel industry and agency distribution system? We've got the inside scoop from John Lovell himself, President, Leisure Travel, Supplier Relations & Networks from Travel Leaders Group. He's given us a little taste of what he will be discussing during his #STCGlobal conference session and what you should be thinking about when it comes to working with travel agents.
Tell us a little about Travel Leaders Group?
Travel Leaders Group is home to more than 52,000 travel agents, primarily concentrated in North America, although we do have a significant international presence as well. We have more than 20 brands ranging from large entities in the premium and luxury markets like Travel Leaders Network, Nexion Travel Group, Altour, Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group and Barrhead Travel to boutique brands like Cruise Specialists Andrew Harper Travel, Roadtrips and In the Know Travel Experiences. And that’s to name a few! Our total annual sales volume tops $20 billion.
Is the number of travel advisors growing or shrinking?
While many prognosticators predicted the demise of travel advisors some years ago, I’m thrilled to say that the profession is, in fact, growing. Certainly, the profession has changed significantly, though. The successful travel agent today is highly specialized. Consumers have become wise to the limitations of making a major travel purchase based exclusively on information culled from the internet and are increasingly turning to travel advisors for their most important travel purchases. This is where specialization is key. Interestingly, those consumers now making the greatest use of travel advisors are Millennials. They are an ‘experience-focused’ generation and have a strong grasp on the benefit of tying together online resources to gather information with a human being who is a destination expert and can tailor a journey.
How important is the cruise industry to your business?
Selling cruises is a huge part of our business. For some of our brands, it is the number one vacation they sell overall. Our travel advisors sell cruises across the spectrum, from the mass market operators to the river, specialty, world cruise and expedition cruise lines. We have deep relationships with most of the cruise companies out there and those partnerships are of crucial importance to us.
Is your cruise business growing?
Yes. Our cruise business is definitely growing. We saw a year-over-year increase in cruise sales in 2018. Of particular note are continued gains in river cruising and a remarkable rise in the popularity of world cruises.
What is your organization’s outlook for 2019?
2019 is off to a great start. There are a number of interesting trends we are seeing both in the cruise sector and the broader travel industry that will impact the coming year and I will be sharing some of those details during my Seatrade presentation on Monday, April 8.