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WHY IT RATES: The host agency is focusing on embracing change, and the agencies within the network expressed feelings of reinvigoration and excitement for the travel industry when looking at a post coronavirus world. -Codie Liermann, Associate Editor
Avoya Travel, one of the travel industry's most innovative brands, concluded Part One of its annual Avoya Conference, the first time Avoya has hosted the annual conference virtually, which spanned four days from October 19-22, 2020.
The extremely successful event focused on Avoya's position of strength moving into 2021 and the resumption of leisure travel post-COVID-19 with an emphasis on "Embracing the Change" and capitalizing on recent technological advancements designed to amplify the selling efforts of the Avoya Network of Independent Agencies.
The Avoya Conference: Part One was highlighted by live panels featuring senior level executives from suppliers spanning the travel industry, including but not limited to Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, AmaWaterways, Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Globus family of brands, Carnival Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and many more.
In addition, keynote speaker Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor, was featured in one of the event's most highly anticipated segments as she educated attendees on telephone sales skills, client retention and customer service in today's virtual world.
In an innovative re-imagining of classic FAM trips and ship inspections, Avoya introduced virtual "Days at Sea/Days on Land", a unique look at a "day in the life" of a supplier's product experience. Independent Agencies were able to explore products firsthand via recorded videos that featured virtual tours, explanations of the product, and even conversations with key shipboard staff members aimed at providing experiential learning about the products.
The virtual event was also geared toward providing extensive networking opportunities for Avoya's Network of Independent Agencies and Avoya's Preferred Suppliers, specifically featuring 1:1 opportunities and small group settings; a result of feedback from the Avoya Network indicating they would like Avoya's Conferences to feature as much 1:1 time with suppliers as possible. Many of Avoya's supplier partners noted that the technology platform used for the event was one of the best they had seen for a virtual conference, especially given all the personal interactions built into the agenda.
Throughout the event, the Independent Agencies in the Avoya Network expressed feelings of reinvigoration and a renewed sense of energy and excitement for the travel industry in a post-pandemic world.
"Part One of Avoya's Conference was an amazing experience! The General Sessions, 'Day at Sea' presentations, Supplier Expo, and cocktail parties were outstanding," said Susan Wolfson, Owner of Go Astro Travel LLC, a Member of the Avoya Network. "I was able to set up appointments with other Independent Agencies and vendors to chat virtually and I loved the Expo! I was able to interact with the suppliers and get my questions answered and to top it off the live chat and availability of downloadable information was fantastic. I feel reinvigorated and am so thankful to Avoya for setting up such an incredible experience!"
Avoya shared a number of compelling statistics during the General Sessions, the most impressive of which was Avoya's 40 percent conversion rate of Future Travel Credits; a mark considerably above industry averages as a whole.
Also of note is the fact that Avoya has retained Independent Agencies that made up 95 percent of its 2019 sales volume during a time when attrition rates have escalated for agencies and networks across the rest of the travel industry due to the COVID-19 crisis; a true testament to Avoya's platform model structure.
Avoya also recapped many of the recent enhancements it has made to its patented, proprietary technology and SaaS offerings during the pandemic, including the new optional Marketing Resource Center, optional Avoya Smart Leads and additional optimizations designed to increase efficiency and collaboration for the Avoya Network. Touting its best-in-class marketing technology and cutting-edge data intelligence, Avoya provided the Avoya Network and its preferred supplier partners with resounding confidence in the position of strength the company has moving into 2021 and beyond.
"We've always felt very strongly that the Avoya platform model is incredibly powerful and built for the future of vacation planning. The strength of the Avoya Network of Independent Agencies during these difficult times has proven that fact and the 2020 Avoya Conference was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the resiliency of the Avoya Network and their incredible tenacity," said Jeff Anderson, Co-President of Avoya Travel. "Our patented industry-leading technology and advanced data intelligence enabled us to be flexible and evolve quickly with the changing environment while helping the Avoya Network continue to provide world-class service to our mutual customers. The Avoya Conference was an exciting celebration of our position of continued strength in the travel industry and a harbinger of the great things to come for Avoya Travel and the Avoya Network of Independent Agencies."
The Avoya Conference: Part Two will take place virtually December 1-4, 2020 and is centered around helping Independent Agencies in the Avoya Network get prepared to sell travel during the 2021 Wave Season and beyond with a specific emphasis on enhancements to health and safety practices, updates on products and protocols, and the "new normal" of life while traveling in a post-COVID-19 world.
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