Travel Leaders expands rollout of Vacation leads program

Travel Leaders Group chief marketing and communications officer Stephen McGillivray at the Travel Leaders Network conference.
Travel Leaders Group chief marketing and communications officer Stephen McGillivray at the Travel Leaders Network conference. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

LAS VEGAS -- A year after its launch to consumers and subsequent beta-testing, Travel Leaders Network is opening its Vacation program to all of its agents.

Travel Leaders Group's Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing and communications officer, and Brian Hegarty, vice president of demand center marketing, made the announcement during the network's annual conference on Wednesday at the Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

Vacation is a consumer-facing website that uses content to draw in prospects, linking them with an agent when they're ready to speak with one. It repurposes the URL, which for years was dedicated to the eponymous consortium owned by Travel Leaders Group. The consortium in 2017 was rolled into a single organization -- Travel Leaders Network -- with two other Travel Leaders Group brands, Travel Leaders Associates and Results Travel.

The consumer-facing version of Vacation, which has the goal of giving qualified leads to agents, was initially announced at Travel Leaders Network's conference last year. 

While Travel Leaders Group has a successful lead-generation program in its Agent Profiler tool, which gives agents individual profiles online, it attracts consumers who are at the bottom of the sales funnel already looking for an agent.

Conversely, Vacation is designed to bring agents to the attention of top-of-the-funnel prospects who are earlier in their travel-buying journey.

The content featured on Vacation ranges from blog posts to videos to more interactive things like quizzes, and is arranged in different verticals, like honeymoons, adventure travel and food travel. It's designed to appeal to consumers' emotions, Hegarty said, and attract them to the site. Supplier-sponsored content opportunities have also recently been featured on the site.

In Vacation's first year live, McGillivray said it attracted some 500,000 unique visitors. On the average weekday, it attracts about 3,000 daily users. Its social media following has also grown, he said.

According to Hegarty, more than 80% of the prospects that use Vacation have never used a travel agent, evidence the site is achieving one of its goals in gaining new customers in that space.

A group of agents has been beta-testing the site since it launched to consumers. The top agents in that group are closing more than 30% of the leads they get, McGillivray said, and some of those have resulted in big-ticket trips like destination weddings or large groups.

Now, Travel Leaders Group is opening the site to its general population of agents. To qualify, agencies must first approve a participation agreement. Then, agents or independent contractors affiliated with that agency can apply to the program.

Travel Leaders Group keeps a percentage of the commission on leads that result in bookings, McGillivray said, but noted there is no fee to participate. The number of leads an agent gets from Vacation is related to the number of sales they close.

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