In less than two years on the job as Delta Vacations’ president, Jennie Ho seems to have mastered the art of working with the home-based travel agent.
TravelPulse recently conducted a Q&A with Ho and learned of everything Delta Vacations does to cater to the home-based advisor, including creating a specific role in the company’s sales team to deal with the needs of home-based travel consultants.
Here’s more on that role and other highlights from our interview with Ho.
Please tell me about how Delta Vacations plans to work more with at-home agents?
“Delta Vacations has long included home-based agents in our business strategy. As a fast-growing segment of the market, it is important for us to meet the needs of this segment.
We developed a special role with our Strategic Sales team, where a key focus is in identifying and assisting the specific needs of the home-based agent. We identify both newcomers and seasoned professionals and form a one-on-one relationship with them to support their business, growth and learning goals.
With the assistance of the business development managers within this team, they have a partner to easily turn to for questions, issues and learning.
In terms of learning, there is constant change in our industry. We provide live trainings with key partners weekly, where agents can learn from industry specialists on the unique qualities of a specific destination, hotel group, or resort family. We allow time for questions and interaction with these partners. We feel that this is important as we truly are in a dynamic industry.
As such, updated information and sales positioning for new products has become a very important key for us to deliver. Beyond the live webinars, we keep a full on-demand library of past trainings so that individuals can customize their own training syllabus.
Additionally, we provide a quick on-demand monthly product update that covers the key changes that have occurred over the past 30 days. This is one of our most viewed pieces. Agents have shared with us that they really appreciate the opportunity to have a quick overview of what is new and different.
Of course, we are very proud of our award-winning annual education event, Delta Vacations University, which brings together over 2000 agents and over 200 suppliers every September. It truly has become the industry-leading education and trade show.
Attending agents can create their own class schedule to hone in on their individual areas of focus. We feel that this is our hallmark event and attracts both industry veterans and newcomers from all agency types and models. Our key host agencies really understand the value of education and home-based agent attendance at this event continues to rise.”
How will Delta Vacations help home-based agents boost their Delta Vacations sales?
“Our sales team actively assists home-based agents in identifying trends and focus to assist in sales growth with our partners. But, we don’t stop there. Through our exclusive Marketing Hub, agents who may not have marketing support can easily create marketing collateral with their own logo and call to action.
This is available for both electronic and print marketing and allows for the creation of professional marketing pieces at no cost to the agent.
To help support agents that may be working non-traditional hours, we are also pleased to share that we offer full-service 24/7 reservations. Our overnight staff can handle all functions of both making new and of servicing existing reservations, no matter what time is best for an agent to do business with us.”
Any new products/tools for home-based agents?
“We have introduced new functionality to our groups booking process to allow for better online management tools. Groups are an important focus and we will continue working closely with the agency community, as a whole, to ensure we are best meeting their needs to sell and service groups business.
At Delta Vacations, our philosophy is, ‘Listen, Act, Listen.’ It is important for us to keep a pulse on how we are doing and where we can continue to improve. Our annual agency survey is key to this, as it tells us what the front-line agent in the field truly needs in addition to their direct feedback with the sales team. We use the data collected to build our business platform and then gather feedback to ensure we have met these goals.
In all, we feel that the human connection is the most important aspect of success. With the combined efforts of our Strategic Sales team and our Customer Engagement Center, we are laser-focused on meeting the needs of the agency community. Our key strategy is to be a partner that is focused on the long-term success of our agents. We truly mean it when we say, ‘we have your back.'”
How important is the home-based agent to Delta Vacations’ business and what’s one insider tip you would give a home-based agent as to how they can improve their Delta Vacations sales?
“Delta Vacations is truly focused on the success of our agency partners. We were one of the first tour operators to have sales team members specifically dedicated to identifying and partnering with the individual home-based agent. Our goal is to support throughout the entire sales process and to assist in developing and maintaining business. We truly understand the trust that is placed in us with each booking. We never take that for granted, and agents can be sure that when they partner with Delta Vacations, service will be key—both to the agent and their clients.
Connections truly are the key to success in our business. Working from home can sometimes make this a challenge. One insider tip would be to truly get to know us. Let us assist you in making more connections, keeping current with industry changes and being your partner in growth.
We will keep you updated not only on sales and specials, but also on events in your market. We bring partners to events nationwide and our home-based agents truly appreciate this opportunity to mix with both suppliers and colleagues.
We truly respect the home-based agent and are impressed with the spirit of entrepreneurship that the home-based agent has. We have seen amazing success and growth from our home-based partners and will continue to focus on exceeding expectations and partnering to meet the unique needs of this segment of our industry.
For those who are not yet partnered with Delta Vacations, we would love to get to know you and work together on building a platform for your continued success. The tools are here and our team is committed to you and your business.”
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