Coming off a year of unprecedented growth, TL Network – now in its third year as a unified enterprise and the largest retail travel agency organization in North America – expanded into 81 countries in 2019 and anticipates further growth this year.
Top officials from TL Network were in Toronto yesterday (Jan. 22) to share all that’s new with the organization.
“We set the stage for a strong beginning to the new decade with innovative technology tools, an enhanced education and training program, increases in marketing and destination partnerships and growing engagement in meetings and events,” said Roger E. Block, CTC, president, Travel Leaders Network.
Last year, the agency organization added 283 new US members, including cruise powerhouse World Travel Holdings, Inc., and 28 new Canadian members. Year to date 2020, it has added another five new members in Canada.
“The Canadian team further expanded last year with the addition of a new sales manager, Kory Sterling, and new business solutions manager, Melissa Wheaton,” said Christine James, vice-president of TL Network Canada. “Both Kory and Melissa will play a significant role in the continued success of our network growth.”
In addition, TL Network launched a major international expansion signing new members in more than 80 countries around the globe. In 2018, the network had a presence in six countries.
John Lovell, president – Leisure Travel, Supplier Relations and Networks, for Travel Leaders Group, noted that travel spending is up and the need for travel agents never more important, especially those with specific expertise, be it in cruise, destination or niche markets like wedding, adventure or luxury travel.
“As travel itineraries get more and more complex, travel advisors are more important than ever for the consumer,” he said. “Consumers are looking for more and more personalization. The travel industry really isn’t slowing down.”
A Travel Leaders Group Travel Trends Survey shows that 95% of those polled plan to travel in 2020, with 44% of these planning to take three or more vacations. Travel spend is also on the rise.
Lovell noted that that travel is North America’s second-largest industry export, generating more $69 billion trade surplus. Travel delivers more than $2 trillion for the North American economy and supports more than 15 million jobs.
“Travel created nearly three time as many jobs in 2019 as the entire manufacturing sector,” he said.
One of the ways TL Network is positioning itself for success is by being responsive to the latest developments in the travel marketplace. Lovell painted an optimistic picture for the travel marketplace in 2020 driven by key trends, such as the explosive growth of the cruise industry, including the forecast that 32 million passengers will take a cruise in 2020.
“We create programs and products that highlight the value of using travel advisors and give our advisors an edge over the competition,” said Lovell. “Demonstrating the value of the travel advisor and increasing their profitability are at the centre of everything we do.”
No surprise, top destinations for Canadians in 2020 are Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Europe is also expected to be strong, with double-digit growth forecast for some destinations. Bucket list destinations include Bora Bora, Croatia and Dubai.
Pictured are (l-r) Lovell, James and Block.