At Signature Travel Network’s annual sales conference, hosted from December 2 – 5 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the network debuted a new niche sales training initiative. Travel segments to be covered include: Active and adventure, expedition cruising, family travel, honeymoon and romance travel, wellness travel, solo travel, LGBTQ+ travel and river cruising. “Differentiating yourself from the competition with a specialty/niche is the key to sales success,” Signature said about the new training program.
The trainings will highlight preferred partners who cater to travelers in these markets and will offer comparisons and reference guides to better match clients with products. Signature will also share sales and marketing tips and best practices. The program is designed for new-to-segment and experienced advisors. These will launch in earnest in 2020 but Signature hosted breakout sessions during its sales conference this week to introduce advisors to the topics and what they might expect from the full program.
The niche sales training will include immersion training, educations journeys and forums, portfolios of partners for each segment, marketing and content. For example, prior to ILTM Proud, hosted in June 2020, Signature will offer its own program to complement this conference, where advisors will get the network's take on the market and different tools to use, and then they can attend the conference's one-on-ones with suppliers. Or for wellness, advisors will get the chance to visit Miraval or Canyon Ranch to learn about the destinations and meet the people on the ground running the various programs. "We want you to get up close and personal with that segment, so when you get home, you can take your business to the next level," Ignacio Maza, executive vice president of Signature Travel Network, tells us.
Good to know: For those particularly interested in the active/adventure segment, this will be a secondary theme to Signature’s second annual Luxury Summit, hosted in Dallas on April 22, 2020 (with the primary theme being “Beyond the Ordinary”).
In time, Signature will create a certification with their training partners for advisors to show that they are experts in these fields. "You have to be vetted and fulfill certain requirements. We have to make sure that if we give you that designation, that you have earned it," Maza says.
"The reception has been fantastic," Phil Cappelli, senior vice president of preferred partnerships, tells us. For the classes available on the conference, there was standing room only, Capelli says.
Additionally, Signature debuted immersion trainings this year, which provide detailed educational trips to learn about brands or products. "You told us you wanted deeper, richer, more complete experiences,” Maza said during a general session. To meet this need, Signature created the immersion trainings, which this year included an event in South Florida to learn about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven and another with TCS World Travel and Fairmont Hotels in Seattle.
Maza added that educational journeys are up 43 percent in 2019 over 2018 and the expectation is to increase this even further in 2020 with the new offerings.
On a similar front, Signature also launched Signature Travel Expert Select, a consumer-facing platform where travelers can find advisor specialists (by destination or style of travel, such as cruising, adventure, family, etc.). These advisors must submit an application and are handpicked by Signature to be included in the program. The profiles will feature videos, expert badges and more. The first batch of 30 advisors have already been selected and applications are being accepted for the new members, which will expand the group to over 70 advisors.