Shared from the 9/1/2018 Agent at Home eEdition

Agency network update

Avoya Travel 2025

The host agency unveils a sevenyear strategic initiative that will roll out in five 18-month phases


The Avoya Travel conference included a two-night sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss.


An Avoya Travel group photo taken aboard Norwegian Bliss.

Staying several steps ahead of the competition is nothing new for Avoya Travel. The family-owned host agency is a travel-selling powerhouse, with a 30-plus-year track record as an American Express Travel Representative. Innovative technology and high-energy marketing are but a few of the company’s signature strengths. And, it doesn’t hurt to have the approachable, tightknit Anderson clan at the helm.

By all accounts, it’s a formula that works. Avoya’s gross revenues for 2017 topped $410 million, which represented a double-digit increase over 2016. The company’s network of independently owned and operated travel agencies grew by triple digits in 2017 as well.

Other companies might shy away from shaking up a winning strategy. Avoya, however, isn’t known for inertia.At its 11th annual conference in May, which was held at Hotel Maya in Long Beach, Calif. and aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss, Avoya announced its most ambitious project to date – namely, a strategic plan to take Avoya Travel into 2025.

“We’ve been so focused on getting things done, and because we’re so tight-knit and close, we don’t think of how we’re actually doing it,” said Avoya Travel Executive Vice President Jeff Anderson. “But, as soon as you bring on new people, you realize that it’s important to plan much further out than before. We need to determine where customer trends are going and what best fits our skill set. We have to clarify what our mission is and what our values are,” he said.

Technology enhancements. The initiative is rolling out in five 18-month phases from June 2018 to November 2025. The first phase, to build the No. 1 vacation platform supporting Avoya’s independent agencies, supplier partners and customers, is already taking shape and scheduled for completion by November 2019. “We have an extraordinarily strong system today,” Anderson. “But, we want to get better. With everything in a single platform, the efficiency gains will allow every part of the organization to fire faster,” he noted.

The company has made new enhancements to Agent Power, its web-based, proprietary travel agency operating system. “We have a romance going on with technology. We love it. We live by it,” Anderson said. “Technology continues to change radically, and no one knows what it will be like in seven years. We need to fill the role of futurists and technologists. It’s been fun to dream up what the new technology teams are going to look like.”

“Technology continues to change radically, and no one knows what it will be like in seven years. We need to fill the role of futurists and technologists. ”
— Jeff Anderson, Avoya Travel

Avoya’s technology teams are designing new components for Agent Power. The newly launched Agency Metrics Dashboard provides agents with daily metrics, valuable data and insights about their agency’s performance.

Time efficiency. Helping the Avoya’s network of independent agencies to operate more successfully as businesses is another overarching goal of the 2025 initiative. “One of the best opportunities we have over the next seven years is to make everyone’s [use of] time more efficient,” Anderson said. “That’s one of the most important responsibilities of senior leaders. We want to help everyone grow.”

Anderson was quick to point out, however, that timesaving technology has its limits. For one thing, it will never replace good personal service. “We’re not trying to reduce the number of people we work with,” he said. “We’re huge believers that humans should do what only humans can do. The goal is to make everyone’s time more valuable,” said Anderson.

New educational programs. On the education front, Avoya is actively expanding its educational opportunities for its agent members. The company has launched an enhanced education program in partnership with CLIA, and announced a new Avoya Mastermind Academy series.

In August, Avoya hosted travel professionals and vendors for the first-ever Avoya Travel Institute. The two-day event gave agents the chance to network with the company’s Diamond Level Preferred Suppliers. The agenda included small-group roundtables with vendors, hands-on workshops, and sessions with Avoya’s groups and promotions departments and support staff teams. Feedback from both agents and suppliers about the event was extremely positive.

All-inclusive resort partners. Another component of the seven-year plan is growing the portfolio of Avoya suppliers, with a strong emphasis on all-inclusive resort partners.

The company has also entered into a new partnership with The Mark Travel Corporation (TMTC). Through the partnership, Avoya and TMTC have created new custom technology for Avoya agents, providing more resort products and promotions, as well as a more seamless booking process through Agent Power.

Anderson noted that the emphasis on all-inclusive resorts will not discount the importance of the cruise segment, which accounts for 70 percent of the host agency’s sales volume.

“We’re not moving away from cruise at all. The resort business is the most natural thing people do when they’re not cruising,” he said. “It’s complimentary to what we’re doing today. As we pursue land business, after the customer’s [first resort stay] we’ll get them on a cruise.”

More specifics on Avoya’s seven-year plan will be announced this fall. Avoya also has its sights set on the more immediate future. “Focusing long range has caused us to realize that we have great opportunities to optimize on in the present,” Anderson said. “If we’re going to talk seven years out, we have to figure out what we’re supposed to be doing today.”

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