Two prominent host agencies, Travel Planners International and KHM Travel Group, recently unveiled new positions that signal a deeper investment in their independent contractors and confidence in the return of travel.
Jenn Lee, previously vice president of sales, will take on the role of vice president of industry engagement and support at Travel Planners International (TPI), the Maitland, Fla.-based host agency.
Jenn Lee, Travel Planners International.
At Brunswick, Ohio-based KHM, Bill Coyle has been named vice president of agent engagement. Both are new roles at their respective host agencies.
Lee said her role as being the voice of the TPI brand won't change. Pam Scott, who most recently worked for Uniworld, will be vice president of sales and marketing going forward, focusing on driving traffic to travel partners and leading the team that helps advisors with marketing. Lee will focus on ensuring TPI is attracting and retaining advisors and on keeping the TPI brand elevated.
"We're going from a reactive state to a proactive state," she said.
Pre-pandemic, TPI had 49 employees, but that immediately was decreased to 19 in essentially one day, Lee said. Yet, the host added 13 new services throughout the Covid crisis, including switching to Signature Travel Network and launching a proprietary customer relationship management system.
Bill Coyle, KHM Travel Group.
TPI has begun adding back staff members and is now bringing on Scott and adding Lee's new position.
The new post will give Lee more time to do outreach with advisors, suppliers and even the media.
"It's about really elevating the industry," she said. "You need really strong personalities to be out there elevating the industry with the advisors in mind, which to me is key."
Coyle came to KHM through his family's retail travel agency, Encompass the World Travel, also in Brunswick. In 2015, KHM approached Encompass the World about becoming a member, which it did; Coyle is still involved in the agency while also working for KHM.
During the pandemic, he's been conducting numerous live sessions with KHM agents to help guide them through the crisis. He also helped develop a 14-week virtual boot camp for agents as well as assisted with bringing back live educational and networking events.
In his new role, Coyle said, he will bring feedback from the agency community to the executive team as well as develop ways to further recognize KHM's agents and what they're doing. It's all about outreach to KHM's thousands of agents, he said.
Up until March 2020, KHM was onboarding about 100 to 120 new agents a month. That number dipped when the pandemic began, but it eventually started to creep up again; since March 2020, around 1,800 new agents have joined.
His new post comes at a time when KHM continues to onboard agents, signaling the industry's recovery.
"Our fastest-growing community of agents is those newer agents, because you're seeing them not have that fear, not setting aside their travel agency business," Coyle said. "They're jumping into it, and they're getting really excited about it. So yes, I do see a resurgence of it."