Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: April 14, 2008

VACATION.COM'S 10th annual international conference and trade show in June will feature a review of the organization's first decade of operations. The event, to be held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from June 16 to 19, will include a tribute to the consortium's founders and past presidents, several of whom will be in attendance, such as Tony McKinnon, Dick Knodt and Mike Spinelli Sr. The conference will also focus on training, including opportunities for agents to earn up to 60 CLIA credits. Seminar subjects will range from Web site development to marketing to sales topics. Speakers and presenters include Bernie Blomquist and Tom Cogan, both of CLIA; Mike Marchev of Michael Marchev and Associates; Nancy Friedman of the Telephone Doctor; and industry consultant Marc Mancini.

A WEB-BASED customer relationship management system called MarketEaseOnline was developed by ITAMS and Passport Online. Available free to travel agents, the CRM software provides e-mail marketing tools to agents who sell leisure. It enables agents to create and send e-mail campaigns to clients, and allows agents to create and store a client database that includes individual client profiles, with some 100 preset marketing criteria and 25 customizable fields. Retailers who already have a CRM product, the companies said, can use MarketEaseOnline to "transform an existing client database into a true marketing vehicle." The software is integrated with Passport Online's VacationPort database, containing thousands of leisure travel offers from about 75 cruise and tour suppliers.

TRIPOLOGY.COM, a site that matches prospective travelers with travel retailers, said activity on the site shows a growing consumer demand for specialized agents. Tripology said that since its rollout in June, it has received more than 20,000 requests from travelers seeking the help of travel specialists. A statement from the company cites a Forrester Research finding that there was a 19% decline in households that researched and bought travel online from 2006 to 2007. It's a sign, Tripology said, that "consumers are not receiving adequate insight and value from travel sites on the Internet." Visitors to Tripology fill out a detailed trip request, which is matched to a selection of 6,500 specialized agents who best meet the traveler's requirements. Each matching specialist receives an e-mail with the trip request, and the first three agents to purchase the lead are then e-mailed the traveler's contact information.

DATEBOOK: The OSSN Austin Chapter will meet at 7 p.m. on  April 24, for a workshop with MSC Cruises. The venue is Marie Callender's, 9503 Research Blvd., Austin, Texas. An MSC Cruises representative will discuss the line's MSC True Partnership program for travel agents. Agents should RSVP via e-mail to [email protected].

Cruise from Bergen, Norway, to St. Petersburg, Russia, with stops at Sognefjord and Aurlandsfjord, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Gdansk, Poland; Klaipeda, Lithuania; Riga, Latvia; Stockholm, Sweden; Tallinn, Estonia; and St. Petersburg, Russia, aboard the Andrea.
Departure: June 21 from Bergen, cruise only.
Length: 12 days.
Sponsor: Elegant Cruises & Tours, Port Washington, N.Y.
Cost: $1,320 per person, double, for full board on the cruise.
Noteworthy: Companion rates are available. Taxes not included.
Contact: (800) 683-6767; fax: (516) 767-9303; e-mail: [email protected].

Home-Based Agent Editor: Donna Tunney
(508) 221-3674
[email protected] 
For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].


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