Travel Impressions Enhancing The Way It Does Business
Travel Impressions recently sent out a letter notifying agents of enhancements to its Group Sales Division that would streamline the sales equation, providing agents with a dedicated support team to assist with everything from general responses to improved resolution time.
We sat down with Travel Impressions Vice President of Global Sales Greg Bernd to talk with him about these changes and what they mean for travel agents.
TravelPulse: Travel Impressions recently streamlined its Group Sales Department to better help agents sell this lucrative market segment. You’ve long been a leader in the group market, so why now?
GB: One of the things we heard most often from agents was their frustration in dealing with numerous people over the course of making a booking. They would reach out, we would put together a proposal and get it back, but once it was accepted their business moved to other people. So what we’ve done, based on agent feedback, is put in place a process where an agent puts in request, gets a proposal and once accepted it goes to a pod group of two to three res agents who will work with that individual from start to finish. They will know the booking inside and out. In reality, agents will work with a single res agent, but the pod will provide knowledgeable backup if an agent’s contact is on vacation. They are all involved in the process and know the details.
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TravelPulse: This sounds like a tremendous benefit to agents. What are some of the key differentiators that set you apart?
GB: We’re hearing incredibly great feedback on this. I’m getting messages on a daily basis saying “Your group department is just amazing!” We do everything for them from start to finish. We work with the hotels on a day in, day out basis and we are negotiating special rates and amenities. If agents reach out directly, it’s all fresh for them and brand new. We have everything pre-arranged. Hotels are coming out with specials on an on-going basis – even in peak season they are providing us with special amenities that make the group experience phenomenal from start to finish.
TravelPulse: What else is in store for Travel Impressions?
GB: A huge percentage of our business comes from destination weddings – overall in 2015 we did more than 3,000 destination weddings. If you do the math on that we were doing an average of 10 destination weddings every day. And that trend continues. While we’ve always been known for destination weddings, we haven’t spent as much time and energy on other types of group travel, so we are putting greater emphasis on family gatherings, incentive groups and all the other types of group travel in the market. We are expanding as groups are becoming more popular.
Added benefits from technology standpoint are also coming down the pike. We will be launching a new reservation platform, which is going to really entice FIT vacations initially but our plan is to expand with technology to make it even more appealing to agents and provide even better experiences in 2017.
We have more competitive pricing than ever before. It goes back to promotions in the marketplace and trying to communicate that as much as possible and steer agents to the right product that will meet their needs and help them with the planning process. Every hotel wants group business—but we do a great job of qualifying what a group’s needs are and steering them to the right product for their experience.
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