The news that Gogo Vacations is launching a consortia-style, fee-based agent membership program set off a flurry of comments on TravelWeekly.com, most of them relatively critical of the proposed program.
The comments focused mostly on the annual membership fees Gogo will charge in exchange for access to proprietary services.
The new program, called Gogo Travel Partner Solutions (TPS), will launch on Sept. 1. Annual memberships will be $495 for agencies, $200 for individuals. Excluding printed marketing materials, annual memberships will be $249 per agency and $100 for an individual agent.
"Not happening on my dime," one comment stated. "I have many vendors who train my staff on their products and do mailers at no charge. Not going to ... pay a fee that equals a franchise fee to most consortiums."
A fee-based model has traditionally been reserved for consortia and host agencies. In fact, has a tour operator or wholesaler ever proposed a fee-based program such as this?
But regardless of whether there is a precedent for this, Gogo asserts that the membership will ultimately pay for itself.
"Each membership delivers over $7,500 of value including monthly mailers and marketing support, quarterly subscriptions to Gogo's travel magazine, On the Go, access to monthly webinars focused on product training, strategies to increase lead generation, sales tips, access to Gogo's Gateway system (training modules to become product specialists) and much more," the company stated in a release.
Additionally, if agents "can increase their production, they can get free membership," said Jim Tedesco, director of Gogo TPS. He explained that member agents and agencies that reach predetermined production growth goals in one year will have the opportunity to have their membership fee waived the following year. They then have the "potential to have a free marketing plan for the next year," Tedesco said.
The value proposition aside, it's never easy asking for money, especially from a group of professionals that already contends with a bevy of fees. So it will be interesting to see in the coming month as Gogo TPS officially launches if Gogo can convince agents of the value of its new fee-based support program.
Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.