While tensions have been growing between some suppliers and travel advisors over evolving commission and refund policies, others are using the Covid-19 travel shutdown and advertising lull to strengthen their ties with the agent community.
AmaWaterways, for instance, is using its marketing muscle to launch an aggressive outreach and awareness program to keep travel advisors engaged and help them promote both their own brands and river cruising.
In addition to increasing from monthly to weekly the frequency of its Webinar Wednesday series, which was introduced last year, the company also this month introduced what it calls a "virtual marketing suitcase" in partnership with marketing specialist Sandra McLemore, a business growth strategist with the California firm Travel Marketing & Media.
The so-called suitcase is a marketing toolbox filled with tips from McLemore and Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways; customizable blog posts; a month's worth of social media posts; and other marketing materials.
"Despite the current challenges we are facing across the industry, we stand alongside our valued travel partners and remain committed to investing in them, providing training, tools and inspiring content they need in order to engage their clients from home," Karst said in a press release announcing the program. "We're proud to partner with Sandra, as she shares our passion for supporting and developing the travel advisor community and helping them introduce more travelers to the magic of river cruising with AmaWaterways."
The first virtual suitcase focuses on the Danube and Rhine rivers. The next, scheduled to be released in coming weeks, will focus on group travel. Gary Murphy, co-owner and senior vice president of sales, and Alex Pinelo, vice president of sales, will share the ins and outs of selling groups with AmaWaterways, including best practices and group policies.
"The rivers continue to flow and so does our love for the travel advisor community," Karst said. "We are continuing to listen to their needs, adapting our policies and adding resources to best serve them and their clients now and in the future when international travel resumes. We're proud to stand beside our partners as they continue to personally connect with their clients who are at home dreaming of their next vacation."