Signature CEO lauds agents for their influence on clients

"What I really want to focus on is how incredible it is when we have challenges. How it proves your value to your customer," Signature CEO Alex Sharpe said at the consortium's 2019 Owners' Meeting. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

AUSTIN, Texas -- From hurricane destruction to reports of tainted alcohol in a destination to diseases, the travel advisor community will always have hurdles to overcome, but those challenges just help strengthen their value.

That was the message of Signature Travel Network president and CEO Alex Sharpe on Thursday during the consortium's 2019 Owners' Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel Austin here.

"We could sit up here and talk about what's wrong, and 'Oh, woe is us,' and all that kind of stuff," Sharpe said. "What I really want to focus on is how incredible it is when we have challenges. How it proves your value to your customer. How it gives us an opportunity to reinforce our value to you and what you bring to the table."

Sharpe highlighted several recent challenges, like Hurricane Dorian's destruction and reports of tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic populating consumer media, and some previous challenges, like reports of tainted alcohol at resorts in Mexico or the outbreak of Ebola virus. The Trump administration's rollback of Cuba travel policy was also an issue for advisors and supplier partners alike.

Looking specifically at the situation in the Dominican Republic, Sharpe said it "reinforces the value of a travel advisor."

They can tell their personal stories of having been to the destination many times and speak to the quality of hotel properties. Advisors can recommend them with confidence, bolstering travel to destinations that are important to the agency community.

"How do we tell that story?" Sharpe asked. "That's our opportunity, and when we do that, we do it well. We're stronger for it."

There will always be new and different challenges ahead, and Sharpe encouraged advisors to use them to provide value to clients and suppliers alike.

"There's always going to be something else," he said. "If you didn't want that, you would've sold widgets."

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