Terri Burke (MCC, CTC) has an extensive and varied travel background spanning over 30 years. Her travel industry career began as a frontline agent and includes executive positions with supplier and retail industry leaders including Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America, Cruise Planners/American Express, AAA National and the Globus family of brands. As part of her travel industry career, she has successfully developed and coordinated two award-winning online travel agent universities and is a champion of travel industry education and accreditation. Through the Avalon Waterways Specialist program, Burke inspired travel professionals to become certified with this important online river cruise training tool.
TRO: Through the Avalon Waterways Specialist program, you inspired travel professionals to become certified with the online river cruise training tool. What makes this tool so valuable? So important?
TB: Avalon Waterways offers guests a different way to see and experience the world. Our award-winning Avalon Waterways Specialist program – an interactive and in-depth educational experience – invites agents to see and sell that difference. Those who have joined the program, have not only enjoyed tangible benefits – including an average Avalon commission of $1,400 and perks like earning a free Avalon cruise – they have invested in themselves as travel professionals and their overall business. Immeasurable opportunities for growth exist for those who are looking.
TRO: You held executive positions in both the supplier and retail fields. How do you feel this provides you with an edge?
TB: When you have walked in the shoes of both suppliers and agents, you uniquely understand the needs and motivations of both while also recognizing the challenges and opportunities that exist in today’s travel market. And while both suppliers and agents often approach situations in a different way, they have the same goal: Inspiring an incredible guest experience. That’s the edge and insight that makes all the difference.
TRO: What attracted you to working with the Avalon Waterways/Globus family of brands?
TB: Avalon Waterways invites travelers to see the world their way. This is a culture – from people to product offerings – that constantly invents ways to deliver on that promise. We have 90 years of experience and we use that to our advantage every day. From hiring the best Cruise Directors and Local Guides who invite guests to engage and immerse themselves in each destination through Local Favorites to working with a deeply insightful operations team who – with our guest’s help – have inspired category-changing innovations like Avalon Waterways’ one-of-a-kind Suite Ships and Open-Air Balconies, this is a company whose strength lies in a legacy of always doing what’s right for guests.
TRO: What role do you feel education has in the lives of travel agents?
TB: Travel agents have a great opportunity to both inspire and educate travelers. The more they know, the better their insight and advice will be. Clients want to know they’re getting the best vacation at the best value. Agents can deliver the confidence their clients are looking for when they take the time and initiative to become certified in various aspects of travel – including utilizing our complimentary Avalon Waterways Specialist (AWS) training.
Not to mention the fact that more education can mean more sales and higher commissions. For example, agents who know and understand the full Globus family of brands portfolio can aggregate their sales to earn higher commissions.
TRO: Which service, offered by Globus family of brands, is the most popular, and why?
TB: In addition to sailing the world’s best rivers, for nearly a year, Avalon Waterways has cruised into American households on their favorite cable news, food, travel and home decorating shows byway of a television advertising campaign. Using this tool, we’re helping travel agents ensure they don’t miss the boat on selling the best river cruise vacations available.
Travel agents are an integral part of this campaign. And while we’ve always provided them complimentary marketing tools and support through our Travel Agent Portal, with this television campaign, we’re encouraging clients to walk through their doors, send them an email or give them a ring. We’re also arming agents with a Consumer Marketing Kit, giving them access to our advertising spots, flyers, social media posts, images and more to ignite sales for 2017 and beyond.
TRO: What’s new and exciting for Avalon Waterways?
TB: We are constantly looking for ways to enhance our guests’ experience with Avalon Waterways. In 2017, we’re turning the table on dining with the Avalon Fresh program; charting a whole new course in river cruising with Active Discovery cruises and encouraging more groups to set sail with us with a new Group Advantage Program. Details follow.
(1) Avalon Fresh: We’ve teamed up with two of Europe’s rising culinary stars, the Wrenkh brothers, to design an exciting collection of wholesome menu options so mouthwatering, you won’t believe they’re healthy. Our focus on fresh, local ingredients from small farms and producers comes together with a splash of innovation that will have you feeling great—as you’re eating and throughout your day. We even offer gluten-free options. Check out our video and I bet you’ll be hungry for more:
(2) For travelers ready for a cruise with real get-up-and-go, in 2017, Avalon Waterways is introducing a NEW Active Discovery on the Danube cruise featuring action-packed activities throughout Europe. On this cruise, travelers have the opportunity to bike, hike and canoe along the Danube … Milk cows or mow grass with a scythe. Explore an ice cave, take an archery lesson, descend into an underground salt mine or ascend up a mountain during a guided climb. They can also choose to learn more about the local language or how to make some of the region’s foodie specialties … This is a cruise focused on engaging in the unfamiliar.
Some Active Discovery on the Danube highlights include:
– Engelhartszell-Schlögen Oxbow-Linz: Active – hiking tour to retrace the WWII smugglers route plus guided hike on the Danube Trail. Discovery – beer tasting at abbey brewery, Linz music theatre program or pub-crawl.
– Linz-Mauthausen-Grein-Spitz: Active – biking along the Roman Limes. Discovery – Mauthausen concentration camp visit and Q&A with a count at Clam Castle.
– Spitz-Krems-Vienna-Wachau Valley: Active – canoe tour down the Danube, biking from Spitz to Durnstein or hiking the vineyards of Vienna. Discovery – meet with an apricot orchard farmer, chef cooking local produce or enjoy a wine-tasting
– Vienna: Active – Sightseeing by bike or run. Discovery –Spanish Horse Riding School, Belvedere Palace, Viennese cooking class and/or private entry to the Museum of Fine Arts.
(3) Group Advantage Program: Yes, it’s a GAP program…amenities for groups. What’s different about Avalon’s? With deposit, we’ll protect the consumer amenity even if you fall below the group requirement, you can combine individual promotions to your group and we’ll protect the price! What’s the group amenity? Pre-paid gratuities and drink vouchers. We think this is a winning way to market and close group business by guaranteeing the offer! Here’s a link to further details: https://agents.globusfamily.com/group-advantage-program/
TRO: Is there anything else you would like travel specialists to know about Avalon Waterways/Globus family of brands?
TB: Our goals are the same as our agent partner goals – to inspire travel and deliver the best vacations imaginable. We do this by listening to what our guests want and delivering it with nearly 500 tours, river cruises and independent travel packages in 80 countries.
To ensure our agent partners can not only access our portfolio of vacations but can also easily share them with clients, we have developed countless, complimentary tools via “The Source” – a comprehensive, easy-to-use portal that offers agents 24/7 access to customizable emails, social media images, videos and more through our Travel Agent Portal. And, of course, we invite agents to become part of our family with education and certification opportunities galore at www.globusfamilypartner.com.
For more information on Terri and Avalon Waterways/Globus family of brands, visit them online at globusfamilypartner.com.