NEW YORK -- Travel Leaders Network is applying its lead-generation technology to the corporate side of the business, playing matchmaker between corporations and travel management companies.

The program was announced during the network's annual news conference here Tuesday.

"We have been extremely successful in lead generation for leisure travel -- individuals looking for an expert in cruise or Alaska or bike riding or whatever it might be," said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Network. "We're taking that same technology, those same learnings, that we have developed over the last seven or eight years on the leisure side, and we're going to be launching that for corporate accounts that are looking for a new TMC."

Block said TMCs often hire corporate salespeople as employees, which can be a large expense. Flying that team across the country to meet with potential new clients adds to that expense.

"If we can identify corporations that are looking for a TMC, identify their needs and then match them with a TMC that provides those services, that's going to be a win for the corporation as well as for our agency," he said.

Travel Leaders Network's matchmaking efforts entail looking at a number of factors to tie the right corporate account to the right agency, including the corporate account's vertical. For instance, an oil drilling company might prefer to work with an agency that has worked with other oil drilling companies and has experience with that type of travel.

Block said the service is expected to launch this quarter. There will be a tiered fee for agencies to participate. The first, less expensive tier is for pure lead-generation services. For agencies who opt for the second tier, Travel Leaders Network will handle the corporate sale directly for the agency, something about one-third of agencies want, Block said.

On the leisure side, Travel Leaders Network uses its Agent Profiler system -- a detailed listing of agents and their specialties on -- to drive leads. 

In 2016, there were nearly 100,000 leads delivered through the system. 2017 brought a 27% increase in leads to nearly 130,000, according to Jeremy Van Kuyk, vice president of technology for Travel Leaders Group.

John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group, said agents' close rates on those leads have been steady at around 20-25%.

Also on the corporate side, "bleisure" travel -- business travel with a leisure component -- is booming.

The category is growing "exponentially," Lovell said, and oftentimes agencies with both corporate and leisure divisions are passing corporate travelers off to their leisure divisions to collaboratively arrange for a "bleisure" trip.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI