American Marketing Group CMO Talks Evolution and Growth
Back in 1970, Brooklyn travel agency owner Rick Mazza founded one of the industry’s first consortiums, TRAVELSAVERS. Over the years, the family-run business has grown to include 18 companies that under parent under the umbrella of Oyster Bay, N.Y-American Marketing Group. In addition to TRAVELSAVERS, American Marketing Group also operates The Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST) for home-based agents; and the Affluent Traveler Collection, for luxury travel advisors. We sat down with Nicole Mazza, American Marketing Group’s chief marketing officer, to discuss what’s with new with consortia, and how they have grown and evolved over time.
TravelPulse: What distinguishes TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Collection from the competition?
Nicole Mazza: TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Traveler Collection are different from other consortia because of their unique approach to client service, products and marketing. We have a unique approach in that we customize our products and services based on the needs of the individual agency. When you work with TRAVELSAVERS you are working with all 125-plus employees who have the agent’s best interest in mind. Our business development managers are in close contact with agents and work with them one-on-one to create a personalized marketing plan to help them strengthen their brand message and improve their bottom line. When you partner with us, you are not a number; you are the most important part of our family.
In addition, we have full-time IT support and client service teams ready to assist agents with the human touch. We develop cutting edge technology to meet the needs of travel agents with the ability to be nimble and flexible to respond quickly to trends in the market.
The protected territory system is one of the most valued advantages you receive from TRAVELSAVERS. The system based on populations of 50,000, provides affiliate travel professionals with control over client relationships and prospective leads in their area. This format enables the agencies to exclusively offer TRAVELSAVERS’ programs without competing with the agency down the street.
TP: How have TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Travel Collection changed and evolved over the last several years?
NM: We continue to innovate and advance the market with technology to make agencies more efficient, effective and profitable. We have experienced tremendous growth this year. As a result, we have grown our business analyst team to support our agents. Our business analyst team consistently exceeds the industry standard and is committed to providing the dedicated service that our agents have come to expect.
Our technology platforms have transformed the way travel professionals conduct business. They are the power behind the process and are relied upon every day by thousands of agents. In order to stay ahead of the curve we continue to explore new platforms and services to provide to our TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and Affluent Travel Collection agents.
TRAVELSAVERS and NEST continue to grow as we add additional leisure and corporate agents. Our proprietary global hotel program includes over 20,000 properties in 2,500 cities and 125 countries. TripXpress, our proprietary booking engine, has grown as well. It now provides access to 100,000-plus proprieties in 150 countries.
Our Affluent Traveler Collection also continues to expand. In addition, our award-winning Affluent Traveler Magazine is now available in 15 countries. The magazine expanded its readership to include American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. Increasing readership of the magazine is part of the strategy to deliver against our goal to support the growth of Affluent Traveler agencies. To meet the growing demand of technology usage, we have added a new iPad application that includes the leading hotel spas of the world to the Affluent Traveler Collection.
TP: What are some of the unique features of OnlineXpress, the new Web solution for TRAVELSAVERS and NEST?
NM: OnlineXpress is purpose-built with forward-thinking technology that is responsive for mobile devices. The program is SEO ready and has real-time lead generating and nurturing capabilities with segmentation and traffic analytics that are unmatched in the industry. As an inbound digital marketing product, OnlineXpress is focused on generating new client online acquisition and current client retention.
OnlineXpress offers a variety of templates that are user-friendly and customizable to include the agency logo and color scheme. The system is unique in that it provides you with the ability to create product offerings, landing pages and a blog in seconds. These robust features allow each agency the ability to further promote their personal brand and unique value proposition.
TP: Have you added any new preferred suppliers that you’d like to mention?
NM: We are always adding suppliers that will further meet the needs of our agents. Our preferred supplier list is one of the most comprehensive in the industry. We not only have the “big guys” but we have exclusive niche suppliers including ones that cater to hot trends such as well-being travel, multi-generational travelers and adventure vacationers. We recently added Exclusive Group Travel and Intrepid Travel, as well as a number of new hotel partners.
Our On Location program continues to grow with locations around the world. This program offers the world’s top destinations at your fingertips. Local agents are available to help you create a truly unique experience for your clients that go far beyond the typical tour.
TP: How’s business shaping up this year? How is comparing to last year? What are predictions for 2016?
NM: Business this year is very healthy. We are seeing the cruise market strong, in all segments. We also see continued strong booking patterns for fun and sun markets. Europe has been softer than anticipated but 2016 is showing strong numbers. All indications are showing 2016 to be a very strong year. Exotics – Asia, South America and Africa – are coming on strong.
Lifestyle segments that continue to grow are wellbeing and multigenerational – and the luxury and romance market continue to grow at an incredible pace as well.
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