Membership in an agent network, whether it's a national or regional group, host agency, consortium or something else, usually comes with a number of perks that travel advisers can — and should — take advantage of.
Take ASTA, for instance. In addition to benefiting from the Society's educational offerings and all-important legislative work for the industry, member agents can, among other things, sign up for a profile on lead-generation site TravelSense.org. The searchable site is in the process of getting an overhaul that will include a live chat function.
ASTA's site and others like it (many consortia, for example, offer various iterations of lead-generation profiles) is another place a potential lifelong customer could find you, but you have to take advantage of it first.
Another good example comes from Travel Leaders Group. During a recent media event in New York tied to one of the company's luxury-focused Elevate the Journey tradeshows, Peter Vlitas, Travel Leaders' senior vice president of airline, talked about the complexity of air travel today.
Vlitas and his team regularly communicate updates and news surrounding airlines to members, readily making them available on agents' portals.
"Part of our job is we have so many advisers throughout the entire group, we have to make sure that the product and the offering and what airlines put out there is something that our agents understand and can translate to the customer," Vlitas said.
As the airline industry gets more and more complex, agents become an important intermediary to help clients understand the product they're buying.
Some of the complexity began when airlines started introducing ancillaries and the concept of paying for seats, Vlitas said.
"All planes are not the same," he said. "All seats are not the same."
Things like basic economy fares further add to the complexity, as do classes that differ by airline, plane and even route.
"It's getting more and more complex for the traveler," he said. "It's no longer just, 'Let me go from A to B.'"
That complexity deepens with longer routes that have multiple stops across multiple carriers in an alliance.
As a result, Vlitas and his team frequently provide agents with detailed updates so they can better understand the nuances and, in turn, better serve their customers.
For experts like Vlitas and his team, putting together updates on airlines might be a simple task, but it's a huge timesaver for agents that's available with their affiliation with Travel Leaders Group. Similar benefits come with Membership in other networks across the industry. Take advantage of them.