Signature Travel Network Survey Finds Agents Optimistic About Future
By James Shillinglaw
September 13, 2012 9:54 PM
Signature Travel Network, at its annual owners’ meeting at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., revealed the results of its internal "State of the Market” survey showing that nearly 90 percent of members are feeling optimistic about the state of the travel industry. “Their optimism is reflective of Signature's growth in the past few years, and their preferences and forecast for the future reinforce many of the resources…Signature provides and continues to enhance,” said Signature Executive Vice President Alex Sharpe.
In other data from the Signature survey, which was conducted in August 2012 and includes responses from 90 percent of Signature member owners, 26 percent of Signature members say group travel account for more than 25 percent of their business. In addition, 58 percent of members believe group travel is one of the greatest opportunities for the future. One third of members say the typical lead-time on a booking is now two to three months before departure. Eighty percent of business is conducted via email, on the phone, or most often both. The average staffing breakdown for Signature agencies is 47 percent full time, 16 percent part time and 37 percent independent contractors.
For the future, 81 percent of Signature members agree that being a "Specialist with Niche Positioning" will be a "very viable" business model in five years. Eighty six percent of members agree the ability to charge service fees will be "very" or "critically significant" to their business in five years. Three out of four members agree that mobile services will be "very" or "critically significant" to their business in five years.
With regard to Signature marketing programs, 82 percent of Signature members agree that Signature publications will be a "very" or "critically important" promotional element in five years, followed closely by email marketing (76 percent), partnership co-op marketing (75 percent), social media (68 percent), direct mail (58 percent), telephone prospecting (30 percent), event marketing (29 percent) and newspaper advertising (1 percent).
The survey also found that Signature members saw the biggest opportunities in specialization, groups, marketing and social media. On the supplier front, Signature members said the most important supplier support comes from, in order, dedicated staff for problem resolution, coop marketing funds, educational programs and lead programs.
“What did we learn?” asked Sharpe. “There is overall optimism for the near term, business is rebounding, members are embracing new marketing channels, and supplier partnership is critical. But there’s lots of work ahead to build long-term viability and value for our individual businesses.”