Alex Sharpe, Signature Travel Network’s president and CEO, launched Signature Virtual Connections to a worldwide audience of 2,000 members and partners on Tuesday. The virtual program, which will incorporate a variety of touchpoints, all focused on selling travel in a COVID-19 world, is touted as the cornerstone of Signature’s recovery plan.
“We need to embrace the new travel landscape and consumer sentiment, with new approaches to selling travel,” said Sharpe during the event. “Unfortunately, we had to cancel our annual conference, which would have brought us all together in October—but rather than just move that same format to a virtual event, we decided to rethink our approach.”
This approach includes partner updates with advisors, destination presentations led by Ignacio Maza, executive vice president, virtual consumer events and more. They will be spread out from August through December; however, Karryn Christopher, EVP, marketing and preferred partnerships, told media that the virtual events make become a staple and Signature will continue to offer them as an additional form of networking post-COVID-19.
During the opening presentation, Sharpe shared that even in these difficult times, interest in joining Signature remains high. “Signature members have acquired new agencies and we have also welcomed new members that have converted from other consortia.” New members that joined in 2020 include Boca Raton Travel & Cruises, Cadillac Travel, Edgewood Travel, Elevations Travel, Prestige Travel, Stellar Travel, Travel of America, Unique Romance and Adventure Travel and Vista Travel Associates.
Similarly, while noting that Signature put an effort on working more with its existing supplier partners, it did bring on three new partners during the pandemic. They were: EmpireCLS Worldwide chauffeured services, which has operations in over 700 cities worldwide and owns much of its fleet to ensure quality; HVN Travel Group, which has a portfolio of over 175,000 residences worldwide (primarily in contemporary and premium market but with some five-star options, as well); and Memorable Belize, an expansion of the existing Signature partner Memorable Costa Rica. Clearly, the first two are attempting to offer more options for Signature advisors as their clients may be seeking more road trips or inquiring about stays in villas or private residences as a result of COVID-19.
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