Written By: Summer Corbitt, Director of Sales & Marketing – UNIGLOBE Travel Center
Legacy of Leadership
Uniglobe Travel Center has always been constantly seeking to find new ways to promote and grow the travel industry. In 1996, when Uniglobe Travel Center first began it’s hosting services, then called In-House Travel, work-from-home travel agents were a new, and not always respected, segment of the industry. Suppliers who were used to dealing with brick-and-mortar agencies weren’t willing to give attention to home-based agents. Uniglobe led the way in the hosted industry to change that perception and get home-based agents the respect and support they deserved. While UTC still has brick-and-mortar agents within our organization, our advocacy has helped home-based travel agents become the fastest growing segment for UTC as well as the industry as a whole.
Not only was Uniglobe instrumental in making home-based travel agents a recognized and powerful segment of the industry, we were also a leader in creating a comprehensive program to aid new agents hoping to become travel agents. Many years ago there was an influx of prospects looking to get into the industry, but with the decline in brick-and-mortar agencies, these prospective agents were only able to find their way into the industry through less than reputable multi-level marketing companies. Seeing a need to provide legitimate guidance to new agents and bolster the travel agent profession, UTC was one of the very first host agencies to create a path for passionate entrepreneurs to become travel agents with their MentorU program.
10 years later we have continued that program for new agents and have made it stronger and more robust over the years. The program initially started as basic coaching on how to book travel, and has now grown to include not only booking guidance, but also a dedicated business development and marketing coach to help new agents build sustainable agencies and learn how to attract clients for themselves. Just this spring, UTC added a new element to MentorU by including a peer mentor into the program’s mix. This peer mentor is a current Travel Agent with Uniglobe Travel Center and can therefore give personal advice on how they are operating their own agency; everything from how they handle potential problems to managing their time on a day-to-day basis. Their role in the mentorship process is to be a friend during the intimidating journey of starting an agency and create that personal connection to the Uniglobe family of agents. “We want to provide our new agents with all the support they need to start their business. We felt that in addition to the coaches we needed someone that has ‘been there’, our Peer Mentor, to help guide the agents through their first few months.” says Vice President of Uniglobe Travel Center, Betsy Geiser.
Uniglobe Travel Center’s leadership in the travel agent community was recognized at the most recent ASTA Global Convention when the American Society of Travel Agents awarded Uniglobe Travel Center as their Host Agency of the Year.
But, Uniglobe isn’t stopping there! This summer UTC will be launching a brand new online Learning Center. Initially, this will launch as a resource center for the MentorU program. New agents will be able to access all their coaching materials in one central place, all divided by learning modules. This will of course not replace the hands-on experience Uniglobe is known for. Those who are part of MentorU will still have their weekly calls to connect one-on-one with their coaches; the Learning Center will just provide a more robust and accessible program.
Once past the initial stage, the Learning Center will also house resources for all agents, both new and experienced. Agents will be able to take additional courses on a full range of travel industry and business topics as well as access a library of webinars and written resources. During its soft launch this spring, the Learning Center hosted one of those very courses, the AIM Forward marketing program with a group of 40 travel agents participating in the pilot program. AIM Forward is a 28-Day marketing initiative originating from the best-selling book, Get Clients Now!, and tailored by UTC to meet the needs of the travel agent. AIM Forward allows agents to focus on one stage of their sales and marketing pipeline, such as filling their pipeline or closing the sale, then laser focus on a few marketing strategies through defined and actionable objectives throughout the week. An important part of the program is the accountability factor. This isn’t a program agents go through alone. Instead they join small group calls each week to talk about their challenges and victories. It’s a great way to connect to other agents, encourage each other, and help keep each other accountable.
Another new program that will live on the Learning Center is the UTC Book Club. This will be an online book club focusing on business books to help agents grow and refine their agencies. It will operate just like a traditional book club, but with the discussions done through online forums and group video chats. An exciting element of the book club is that it will be open to not just UTC travel agents but also open to any travel agent that wants to join. Uniglobe has always been a strong believer in supporting the travel agent community as whole and helping to build camaraderie within the industry.
In addition to the resources UTC currently provides to agents, Uniglobe Travel Center is committed to seeking out new ways to support our agents. Through our consortium, Ensemble Travel Group, all UTC agents have access to a free email marketing program. In addition to the free program, agents also have the option to pay for additional physical advertising that is mailed to their clients based on each client’s travel preferences. In a commitment to help our agents grow their client bases, Uniglobe will reimburse each agent 50% of the cost of the upgraded program at the end of the year.
On The Home Front
Uniglobe Travel Center isn’t just looking for new and exciting opportunities for it’s agents but also for it’s employees. By the time this article is published, I myself will have embarked on a year of living and working abroad with the full support of Uniglobe behind me. I will be traveling with 50 other remote workers, from a variety of professional backgrounds, as we live and work in a new international city each month, for 12 months. While traveling, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks for working abroad on UTC’s blog [hyperlink: http://www.uniglobetravelcenter.com/articles/]. You can also follow my adventures on Instagram at @RemoteSummer. I personally feel very strongly that the world is only becoming more global and therefore more accessible to those that want to have a steady career and travel at the same time. Travel agents get into the industry because they love to travel and they want the flexibility to work from anywhere. That starts as the dream, but often gets put off because they get bogged down at work and the thought of working from a different location is daunting. I want to be able to set an example of working a full time job while traveling, and share the knowledge of how others can live out that dream of working from around the world. Those in the travel industry should be the ambassadors for new opportunities to make travel possible. I want to show people what is achievable!
Just as it has been doing for the past 22 years, Uniglobe Travel Center will always strive to find new opportunities for our agents and as an organization. This sentiment is supported by Geiser, “You can’t let the industry pass you by, to succeed and thrive you have to be willing to grow and try new things. That is the example we want to set for our agents by living it out as a company.”