Business relationships must be based on trust and respect. Companies that convey this ethos are the ones that prosper, and that’s certainly true of host agency Travel Edge, which is changing the game with how it supports its travel advisor membership.
“People are at the core of Travel Edge,” says Jeff Willner, CEO of Travel Edge. “Travel Edge was created out of the idea that luxury travel advisors deserved more from a host agency – they deserved a partner who was willing to invest in tools that helped them earn. We listened to the pain points that hold luxury advisors back and created Travel Edge as a partner in selling luxury travel. Our mission dating back to day-one was to create a partnership that allowed advisors to grow and succeed in a field they love – supported with back end technology that allowed them to earn more while administrating less.”
These best practices have made Travel Edge a major player in the host agency arena and they’re executed throughout the entire company.
Respect for Travel Advisors
“We believe we are stronger together. Travel Edge is a business partner that respects the power of advisors and their agency working together” says Michael Johnson, Executive Vice President of Travel Edge, noting that luxury travel is all about the human connection. He says the host agency has tremendous respect for the aptitude, skill sets and knowledge base of its advisor members and for that reason puts a keen focus on enabling them to focus on what they do best – making dreams come true.
“In fact, we all focus on the same goal: To create unforgettable luxury travel experiences for our clients,” says Johnson.
There is much that goes on behind the scenes to create a seamless landscape for Travel Edge advisors. Paramount is the technology the host agency provides. It’s simple to use, comprehensive, and allows the advisor to build sophisticated itineraries easily.
“Our proprietary booking tool, ADX allows you to earn more, faster,” says Johnson. “It allows you to book air, cruise, hotel, and insurance with immediate visibility to commission levels so advisors can choose the most profitable travel options for their clients.”
Even better: “There are no debit memos and invoicing is fast and easy. The combination allows our advisors to spend less time on administration and provides the opportunity to earn more,” says Johnson.
Sound Finances, Great Commission Splits
There are additional reasons to team up with Travel Edge, he continues.
“Travel Edge is built for the long term and continues to invest in providing the best solutions for our advisors,” says Johnson. “On top of all of this, Travel Edge offers very competitive commission splits and top-tier commission levels across all categories with no graduated scales.”
In fact, the host agency believes its advisors should be paid for their hard work and for that reason, Travel Edge also offers complimentary overdue commission collection.
“Our team partners with you as an advocate with vendors to ensure you are compensated for your bookings,” says Michelle Leal, Vice President of Advisor Services for Travel Edge. She adds that as a member of Travel Edge advisors gain access to the best amenities, training, and marketing materials as well as cruise and hotel amenities for their traveler. “Everything you need to give your clients more,” says Leal.
Back to That Human Element, and Rewarding Success
Those are the tangibles, but Travel Edge executives believe the human side of working with travel advisors is of paramount importance.
“We believe in the importance of listening. Travel Edge is made up of the leaders of luxury travel – those collective experiences and ideas make us better,” says Johnson. “In listening you hear exactly what interests advisors in the form of celebration and recognition. Our advisors create and curate some of the most phenomenal customized experiences around the world for their clients. Each detail is carefully curated. We feel the celebration of the advisor should be just as special.”
That means that the most successful Travel Edge advisors are rewarded with true luxury experiences. In 2019, the company relaunched its “Top Performers” recognition trips, which are designed to be as unique as its advisors.
“We curated five small bespoke Top Performers trips that allowed advisors to select their areas of interest that are relevant to their business and clients,” says Leal. “Travel Edge advisors were the first to visit the newly opened Four Seasons Lana’i Hawaii; they also got to choose from a truly unique Azamara cruise through the Caribbean or a luxury experience tour of Bordeaux, Marseille and Lyon with the Intercontinental Hotel Group, Rocco Forte Collection through Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin; and an exclusive St. Regis Marriott experience through Venice, Florence and Rome.”
Why go to so much trouble to make these incentive trips special? “No two advisors are the same – rewards and recognition should celebrate this uniqueness,” says Leal.
Signing Bonus Program; That’s a “Wow.”
Michael Johnson is especially excited about a new annual award that “exclusively celebrates the craft of the Travel Edge advisor.” The first awards ceremony was held as a private event for Travel Edge advisors and leaders of the travel industry in Las Vegas in 2019 at the MGM NoMad Hotel. It was an elegant affair on all counts and gave travel advisors a lovely break during Virtuoso Travel Week to network with their colleagues and celebrate the successes of the past year.
“Travel Edge believes we all win when we celebrate our advisors as our business partners,” says Johnson.
The company plans to continue to grow its agency network, and in a big way. “We know that people were shocked and cast great doubt when we launched the exclusive Travel Edge signing bonus of up to $250,000 dollars in the middle of the pandemic – this had never been done before – but this is a testament to the fact we believe incredible talent needs to be rewarded,” says Johnson.
And while growth is a priority for Travel Edge, it plans to expand carefully, ensuring its very high caliber of advisors remains consistent.
“Our focus is to add new advisors with a business mix compatible with our company’s preferred suppliers,” says Johnson. “The coming rebound in travel sales will enhance Travel Edge’s performance for our top airline, cruise, hotel and tour partners. This will enable our company to deliver the benefits promised to our frontline advisors and their clients.”
Advisors through the network will also maintain certain common traits: “Empathy, client-centricity, industry expertise and attention to detail are some of the hallmarks of our advisor community, and will remain so,” says Johnson.
Key Basic Rules
All told, CEO Jeff Willner has every intention on keeping Travel Edge’s three core values in place well into the future:
EMPOWERMENT: “We empower our team with the best tools, access to the best contracts, industry relationships and resources to maximize their potential – and deliver on the full potential of travel for our clients.”
INNOVATION: “We are innovating to create a unique ‘one -top-shop’ that supports every step of the selling process from quotes through booking through invoicing and insurance, in order to simplify luxury travel and make it better for advisors and clients alike.”
SPIRIT: “Our people make us strong. And our ongoing commitment to nurturing each other through education and recognition makes us all even better. Because when our team prospers, our business prospers.”
Keeping the Dream Alive
“We believe in celebrating advisors. We understand each and every advisor’s business began as a dream that they turned into a business,” says Willner. “These advisors dreamed about making dreams come true – and unlocking the world for their clients. This is something we talk about everyday as a team. We have created Travel Edge as a home for advisors to keep dreaming – and in turn keep making dreams come true for their clients.”