Protravel International And Tzell Travel Group Merge, Pick Virtuoso

At a virtual meeting of more than 1,000 Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group independent advisors on Tuesday, the leadership of the two travel agencies announced they would be merging, offering a new advisor support and leadership structure, in addition to “an enhanced value proposition.”

In May, Internova Travel Group CEO J.D. O’Hara announced a major reorganization at the company, formerly known as Travel Leaders Group, including the creation of a single division focused on bringing together its high-service premium and luxury travel brands, including Protravel, Tzell Travel, Andrew Harper, In the Know Experiences and All Star Travel Group. A new parent company name for this division will be announced by October 1.

The Protravel and Tzell Travel brand names, however, will continue and advisors will use whichever name best suits their business needs, Angie Licea, president of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group, said during the meeting.

Single Consortia Partner

At the meeting, Becky Powell, chief strategy officer for Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group, announced the selection of Virtuoso as the single consortia partner for the new, united organization. “It was a tough decision,” Powell said. “Signature Travel Network, Tzell’s legacy consortium, has been an outstanding partner and we have a tremendous amount of respect for the Signature leadership and staff.”

Powell said Virtuoso had an edge because of its global reach and its ability to service the London operation, which includes Protravel and Tzell Travel, as well as luxury leisure agency, Colletts Travel.

In a letter to Tzell travel advisors, Signature president and CEO Alex Sharpe said, "There is no doubt that we will miss having our Tzell advisors in the Signature family, but we absolutely understand both the decision to reorganize into one organization and under a single consortium. We fought like hell, but came up short on this one and tip our hats to our industry competitor and friends at Virtuoso. I have tremendous respect for your leadership team and have really enjoyed getting to know Angie and Becky more through this process, along with the incomparable Karen Magee (VP, partnerships and leisure services at Tzell), I know you are in good hands."

New Advisor Support and Leadership Structure

Creating a responsive, forward-looking structure focused on supporting advisors to help grow their businesses is at the heart of the redesign of the organization, Licea said. This included merging support teams, programs and supplier relations functions.

The new organization will be headed by leaders from both the Protravel and Tzell Travel organizations:

  • Michele Capaccio, chief operating officer, will be charged with delivering advisor support and operational services.
  • Don Jones, chief marketing officer, will manage a newly created Marketing Department, as well as oversee branch management for the Western Region.
  • Jason Oshiokpekhai, managing director U.K., is responsible for U.K. operations.
  • Becky Powell, chief strategy officer, will lead supplier and advisor engagement, including growing relationships with the most valued partners in the industry.
  • Cindy Schlansky, chief development officer, will be responsible for bootcamp programs, ongoing education, advisor recruitment and onboarding, as well as the Tzell affiliate branch network, which will remain largely unchanged.
  • Monty Swaney, chief business officer, will oversee Eastern regional branches, as well as account management focused on helping advisors grow their corporate business.

New Benefit for Independent Advisors

During the meeting, Licea said that every advisor would receive digital access to the Andrew Harper Hideaway Report at no cost, a $250 annual value. In addition, the organization will continue to invest in and grow its SELECT Hotels and Resorts program.

The enhanced value proposition, including a robust advisor support system, leading supplier partnerships and top talent, is now in place, Licea added. “While our decision to bring these two powerhouse companies together was not related to the pandemic, with the new structure, we will be well prepared to respond to the changing travel landscape,” she said.

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