TPI goes for quality over quantity with invitation-only recruitment “That strategy is paying dividends for us”
Interview with Tim Morgan – by Travelweek Group
TPI started off the year with single-digit growth and February is continuing the upward trend with double-digit growth. Commissions continue to outpace the growth of travel sales, says Tim Morgan, Vice President, TPI – Travel Professionals International, in this edition of Sphere’s Insider Interview.
Sphere: You’ll soon be a familiar face at Toronto and GTA area industry events with your relocation to Toronto this spring. Is your move an indication that TPI wants to grow its presence in Ontario and increase market share across Canada?
Morgan: “TPI has always had a strong presence in Ontario – it accounts for over 37% of our existing travel sales – and we see it continuing to contribute strongly to our organization. We have had various managers, directors, and executives based in Southern Ontario over the years, including our incredibly capable current Ontario Regional Sales Manager, Rhonda LaFosse, and I’m very excited to be able to join Rhonda to contribute to TPI’s continued dominance in Ontario and across Canada with this move.
“Between our Regional Sales Managers across Canada, our National Director of Sales and our President and CEO in Winnipeg, and me in Toronto, we will continue to increase our market share across the country.”
Sphere: How many members does TPI have currently and what’s your goal for 2017?
Morgan: “We’re not so concerned with membership numbers as we are with the quality of the members’ sales.
“Two years ago we drastically paired down our recruitment efforts to focus specifically on highly-qualified individuals through an invitation-only approach.
“That strategy is paying dividends for us in terms of the quality of each travel sale, namely higher margin types of travel that our advisors are booking. This benefits all TPI travel advisors because we’re able to devote greater support services to a smaller cumulative group of advisors.
“In addition this focus on highly-qualified recruitment produces higher commissions and service levels from our preferred partners which directly benefits all our travel advisors.”
Sphere: TPI has some stand-out travel agents. What do members tell you they like best about TPI?
Morgan: “TPI has incredible travel advisors – the best in the business. What our travel advisors say they like most about TPI is each other [laughs]. It’s true though – the best thing about TPI are the incredible travel advisors that are part of our network across Canada.
“We constantly hear about the benefits of them networking with and learning from their peers – whether via social media, our regional meetings, our annual conference, or otherwise. Our travel advisors love to work together and they love that we encourage them to share and help each other because that is what we do corporately every day as we help them grow their business.
“We are nothing without our dedicated head office team and our passionate advisors, and the best part is that everyone is working together toward the same goal – success for our travel advisors.
Sphere: How are sales volumes looking for 2017 for TPI members – what sort of feedback are you hearing from the front lines?
Morgan: “We just finalized our mid-year results (for the six months ending 31 January 2017) and while the latter half of calendar 2016 was somewhat of a mixed bag when it came to sales, January started off the new year with single-digit growth and February is continuing the upward trend with double-digit growth.
“Travel commissions continue to outpace the growth of travel sales which is fantastic news for our travel advisors – through higher margins, they’re putting more money in their pockets than ever before.
“Our main corporate push with our travel advisors over the last two years has been to ‘work smarter, not harder’, specifically when we look at the type of travel they’re selling to boost their commission margin – and it’s working.
“With a focus on higher margin product, we’re seeing strong increases particularly in cruise sales and in the service fees that travel advisors are charging for their valuable services across all travel types, including ITC groups.”