Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

One of the hallmarks of a great agent-client relationship is an agent's knowledge about their client: their travel style, bucket-list destinations, typical traveling companions and more, right down to family milestones.

And, it turns out, some are using that knowledge to deepen relationships — and earn commissions at the same time.

Alfred Volden is the president and managing director of Albuquerque, N.M.-based All World Travel. Volden offers his clients a product, Medjet travel protection, at times when it makes sense, like when a child is going to study abroad in college.

Medjet is an air medical transport membership program that is a supplement to travel insurance. If a member is in the hospital 150 miles or more from home, Medjet will arrange air transport home for them, regardless of whether or not it is a medical necessity. There are a number of membership options available, including short-term and annual, and all are commissionable.

Volden himself has a Medjet membership, and said he always recommends membership to his family clients (a family MedjetAssist membership starts at $395; Medjet also offers a premium product, MedjetHorizon, which includes security benefits at an additional cost).

When All World Travel knows a client's college-age child is going to be studying abroad, Volden said, the agency always recommends a Medjet Collegiate Membership (an annual individual membership is $270).

It's part of a "holistic approach" All World Travel uses, Volden said.

"By that, I mean knowing more about them than just what trips they are planning with us," he said, "and showing knowledge and concern about other travel needs they may have that they may not even know of and options that cover life outside of booked travel.

"It helps build client trust, and in turn, client loyalty, which we all know is so important to our business. It shows you listen to them, and you care about their lives as a whole, not just the big vacations they plan with you."

Volden said All World Travel also talks to clients about purchasing individual memberships for children who are aging out of family memberships.

"We then like to have a conversation directly with the (now adult) child about their new membership," Volden said, "because that creates an opportunity to build a foundation with the next generation, who will also hopefully become agency travel clients."

Products like Medjet can help clients through situations that otherwise could become bank-busters.

Susie Levitz, director of travel and meeting services at Protravel International, recounted a recent story about a client who had to be transported from Sydney to the United States. Levitz said the cost of the air ambulance was "staggering" — more than $140,000. But since the client had purchased a Medjet membership as Levitz had recommended, she paid nothing.

Levitz said she always recommends clients purchase insurance, and she brings up the benefits of Medjet as an ancillary product; if clients don't purchase the products, she asks them to sign a waiver.

With the recent Sydney-to-U.S. transfer, Levitz said she was the first call her client's husband made.

"I was beyond relieved to, A, feel like I had absolutely fulfilled my duty of care, and B, have only one point of contact, Medjet, to make all the arrangements for their member, my client, to get her on U.S. soil within a few days," Levitz said.
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