More than ever before, travel agents are looking for something that will give them an edge in what is an increasingly competitive marketplace – something that customers can’t get online.
For those working under the MTA – Mobile Travel Agents banner, that something is an exclusive, invitation-only membership to luxury travel network Virtuoso.
MTA advisors have access to a swathe of client benefits via Virtuoso that can’t be booked by the public online and are often for no additional cost, including room upgrade on arrival, daily breakfast for two, food and beverage credit, early check-in/late check-out, spa treatment credits, and special Virtuoso experiences.
Furthermore, MTA became the first agency to have Virtuoso Voyages training held in-house by a trainer flown in especially from the US late last year.
Usually conducted in Las Vegas during the annual Virtuoso Travel Week, Voyages cruise host training is compulsory for any travel advisor wishing to host groups on Virtuoso’s luxury cruise program.
One MTA advisor who completed the training program is Jodie Everett (main image, centre), who was also recently a finalist in the Most Innovative Advisor category at the 2019 Virtuoso Asia-Pacific Luxury Awards.
Travel Weekly spoke to the Perth-based agent to find out how the training and MTA’s affiliation with Virtuoso has helped take her business to the next level:
TW: What were the key things you learnt from the in-house Virtuoso Voyages host training session last year?
JE: That hosting a Virtuoso Voyage is a great sales tool for agents to market and increase their cruise clientele. As an advisor, I feel completely confident in the knowledge that my clients have the backup of a host onboard, and the trust between Virtuoso agencies ensures your clients are treated by the host as if they were their own. But with the strict solicitation policy in place, your clients are always referred back to their original agent.
TW: How has the training helped grow your business?
JE: As the training has given me a better understanding of the product, I have complete confidence in recommending a Virtuoso cruise line or product to my clients when spending a significant amount of money on their travel arrangements.
TW: What are the benefits from being part of the Virtuoso ‘club’?
JE: Virtuoso advisors can offer their clients experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. As Virtuoso advisors, we build great relationships with hotels, tours operators and cruise lines ensuring our clients are always receive VIP treatment, but I also find they go the extra mile to confirm rooms or find availability for us.
TW: What are some of the misconceptions other agents have about Virtuoso, if there are any?
JE: The biggest misconception is that Virtuoso products are always more expensive. Virtuoso hotel rates can be very competitive and offer benefits, making their rate better than most wholesalers. Crown Towers Perth is a great example of this. Its Virtuoso rate can be as low at $299 midweek, and includes a $100 F&B credit together with entry for two to the Crystal Club worth over $200, plus room upgrades and early/late check-in.
TW: How do you plan to continue growing your business through Virtuoso’s offering?
JE: Virtuoso’s offerings continue to inspire me as an agent by highlighting new destinations and exciting experiences. I use Virtuoso to learn about the best possible luxury trips for my clients. By taking advantage of Virtuoso’s special offers and training, I can give my clients endless choice and unparalleled experiences in travel.
TW: What are some of the other benefits of working under the MTA banner?
JE: As I had run my own business from home for 20 years, the biggest benefit moving to MTA is offloading the admin and accounting side of the business, leaving me to concentrate on planning amazing holidays for my clients. The assistance office support when I am on annual leave or a famil is also a great advantage, but I have found meeting agents from around Australia and having over 400 colleagues to bounce ideas off or offer advice is invaluable.