Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

Flexibility is key during difficult times, especially as the travel agency community faces the coronavirus crisis head-on. That was one of the drivers behind Oasis Travel Network's new Build-A-Plan program, which enables independent contractors to choose what they pay for each month.

Under the program, introduced in late May, independent contractors (ICs) who affiliate with Oasis go through a two-step process to determine their commission split and add-ons. Commission splits start at 75% for $228 per year, followed by 85% for $348 per year, 90% for $468 per year and 100% for $2,388 per year. All affiliation levels include errors and omissions coverage and ASTA membership.

From there, ICs can choose several add-ons: a website, membership with itinerary management application Axus, email and print marketing through Signature Travel Network, Clientbase Online access or an associate program to help build their business.

Oasis president Kelly Bergin said the coronavirus crisis made it clear that members would face financial challenges. But Oasis also found that, pandemic aside, it needed more flexible membership offerings with north of 900 ICs. The pause in travel was advantageous to implementing the new plan.

"In these unprecedented times, where travel bookings have certainly taken a toll, the importance of being flexible is crucial," Bergin said. "As a host agency, it is important to show members that we understand the nature of this resilient industry and are able to adapt and support them, no matter what."

Existing Oasis members can switch to the program anytime this year. Come Jan. 1, all members should be in the new program, Bergin said.

While Oasis is giving members some flexibility in terms of fees, the network is beginning to see some positive signs ahead.

Bergin said bookings are on the uptick, mostly with cruises, which currently represent some 80% of total sales.

Most of the total bookings (80%) are for 2021. The remaining 20% of bookings represent cruise sales in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Bergin encouraged advisors to keep in touch with both past and potential clients as well as to lean on organizations to which they belong, many of whom are providing assistance.

"We encourage all agents to stay positive, as our data currently shows that consumers are eager to travel, by cruise specifically, and will be leaning on advisors for their knowledge and expertise moving forward," she said.

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