Written By: Jeanne Colombo, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships – Passport Online
The growth and success of the travel agency community, and in particular, the growth of the Independent Contractor, has truly changed our industry. At Passport Online we continue to commend and applaud the increasing innovation that leads to the continued success of the travel agency community.
Looking at the most recent Phocuswright Travel Agency Landscape Study, today’s average agency is making more money year over year and continues to grow at a steady pace. In fact, today the average agency has 14 employees and 40 Independent Contractors. Business is booming and consumers are seeking out professional travel advisors to best insure their vacations truly become lifetime memories.
In response to this industry growth, the industry requires new and different digital tools geared toward helping the Travel Advisor’s business be visible wherever their customers are shopping for travel. To meet this important need, for the Independent Advisor, Passport Online has created NexCite Independent; an economical, complete professional website solution. We have also expanded our host agency options for those who have their own independent contractors. Each of these products give your ICs the tools to easily engage with their customers and adapt the brand and digital identity for your business.
As the industry’s leader in travel agency digital technology, our engineering and customer support teams focused on this need to expand our offerings for website options. The result was the creation of an affordable website specifically designed for the independent contractor. NexCite Independent, “Selling Travel Your Way”, combines a modern layout and powerful shopping tools to elevate an individual travel agent’s digital footprint no matter their affiliations. We know today’s consumers search the web to start their shopping, to validate a business, to check out a referral from a friend, etc., which will seamlessly lead to the travel seller to finish the sales process. Therefore, in today’s market it is essential to have a strong web presence. This website does the work for an independent travel professional allowing them to focus on what they do best – selling travel.
Recent Travel Institute research states that more than 60% of today’s travel sellers are independent contractors. They are succeeding because they are independent, but they need a strong foundation to professionally promote their unique identity.
This new simple website solution offers professional design, complete functionality and personalization to help today’s independent contractors share their unique abilities. In addition, Passport will make these sites secure adding to their value for search on Google and other search engines.
-Clean, modern layout
-Multiple color choices
-More than 40 rich media destination pages to help your customers explore the world
-Specialty pages including: Cruise, River Cruise, Vacations, Resources and Agent DNA profiles
-Shopping engine with your choice of up to 100 leading tour, cruise, day trip and hospitality suppliers
-User-friendly navigation tools
-Social media integration to ensure a connected digital experience
-Agent DNA profile pages to showcase you and any additional sub agents
-Social media integration
-Agency contact information and branding
-Agency logo integration
-Personalized homepage text
Having supplier content is critical to help consumers start their travel planning journey. In 2018 more than 44 million unique consumer shopping sessions took place on Passport powered websites. Consumer’s interaction on these sites spiked. Detailed offer views, where a consumer clicks beyond the agency home page to explore a travel opportunity, increased by more than 20 percent in 2018. Each month nearly 500,000 offers were viewed on the Passport powered websites.
Passport’s Host Agency Solution – For many of you, the business has evolved so much that you are now a host agency. You now have ICs to support and a business brand to protect. For host agencies, a master site allows for the Host to highlight areas of importance, merchandise options for their partners and offer unique selling points and specialties. Advanced tools allow for each agent to personalize their site in their own way. Preferenced with the Advisor’s preferred suppliers, these sites offer content from up to 100 industry tour, cruise and destination suppliers and this consistently updated supplier content is critical.
If you have a team of Independent Contractors and want to create a digital presence, with websites for your agents that you can control, we have two host agency solutions.
One, a unique website solution designed to give flexibility and control to the Host Agency, with a website for each Independent Contractor. This program helps the Host and the IC sell more travel by providing content rich, colorful websites for consumer shopping. The IC sites are replicas of the Host with some customization allowed. The sites offer robust content, updated daily. Consortia and Host Exclusives are prominently posted. The sites have the ability to add social media icons, and choices for templates and color schemes.
Two, for agents that want more ability to customize their website, the Advanced Agent program provides additional functionality. The Agent website will still inherit content from a Master Site that the Host controls, however, the agent can add as many sections and pages to their site as they desire.
All Host and Independent Contractor sites offer clean, modern layouts, beautiful images, more than 50 rich media destination pages, agent DNA profile pages to showcase agent info and additional sub agents, and social media integration. Training and customer support are included with any Passport Online product.
In addition to the website solutions provided to individual agencies and their ICs, Passport added Independent by Liberty, Travel Planners International and What a Trip as customers for this expanded host agency program. Existing host customers include Nexion, Uniglobe and America’s Travel Companies. The IC/Host programs have added over 300 individual sites since launch in late 2018.
Pricing for NexCite Independent is $25/month with a one-time $25 setup fee. Host agency programs are customized and pricing may vary. For more information on these programs and to sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever decision you make on your business website, you also need to be present on social media. If you are looking for a simple and professional social media solution, any of our website solutions can be combined with our ESP social media content and posting tool to be sure you are active and engaging on social media with little time investment.
Passport Online is the leisure travel industry leader in website, web content, email marketing, and social media solutions. Passport also offers state of the art cruise and tour booking engine solutions for b-to-b and b-to-c needs. A major distribution channel for leisure travel suppliers to connect with the leading consortia, retail agencies, professional home-based agent networks, and their clients, Passport Online enables millions of consumer shopping sessions on thousands of travel agency websites. We have been dedicated to the online presence of the travel agency community for more than 25 years and that is all we do. If you want our team to help you do a digital analysis of your business and determine what next steps you could take, please let us know. For more information, visit www.passportonlineinc.com.