As an agency owner, the toughest things for me are to keep my sales staff focused on preferred suppliers, up to speed with the various promotions and to remember to work for the client by offering add-ons to their experience. We operate in an information overload industry.
When I first saw the name Leisure Pops, I thought there was a new brand of cereal on sale at the market. But when I saw that Lee Rosen was behind it, I knew I needed to learn some more. After all, the man is responsible for making me money. I have been a client of TRAMS and ClientBase since 1997 and have never looked back. I know Lee pretty well and while the press release claimed he was retiring, I just couldn’t see him sitting back looking at a gold watch forevermore. Enter Leisure Pops.
I called Lee and wanted to learn more. What I found was that it is indeed not a cereal, and it is not nearly as intrusive as I had anticipated. But more importantly, I am seeing it as a way to add hard revenue to the bottom line. Take a few minutes and read my interview with Lee Rosen, President of Leisure Pops.
John Frenaye: Lee, you are one of the few pioneers in technology for the travel agency community with your founding of TRAMS and later ClientBase and TMA. You “retired” over a year ago, so what brings you back into the fray?
Lee Rosen: I just love the industry and always have had affection for the agency side of things. I had a great run at TRAMS and Sabre. After taking the summer off, I knew that I needed to get back. I care so much about the products and the people and decided to forge ahead with this new project.
JF: We first heard about Leisure Pops a week or so ago. What is it? How do you see it integrating in the world of today’s travel professional?
LR: It is a PC based application (not web) that quite simply will help every agent offer better service to their clients and allow them to make lifetime relationships. The technology is fast and works bidirectionally. When you get a pop and act on it, it auto navigates and prepopulates the appropriate website. For instance if you are popped to sell theater tickets, Leisure Pops will sign you in, and navigate you to the page for the date of your client’s trip where you simply select the performance. Click “purchase” and it will grab all the billing and name information, populate the fields and then hand it back to your GDS (as a passive segment) or to your CRM.
JF: You personally brought CRM to the forefront in the travel agency with 50,000+ travel professionals using ClientBase. The obvious question is will Leisure Pops integrate with ClientBase and the LiveConnect feature?
LR: Yes, right now we work with all 4 main GDS systems, 155 separate websites, ClientBase and more. The program is not dependent on any one program or technology.
JF: Consumers in general cringe when they hear the word “pop” –as in pop up advertising. A travel insurance company tried this once and it was not too well received. How obtrusive will these “pops” be to the workflow of the travel professional?
LR: I agree, pop ups are annoying. With Leisure Pops, it is different. It is not web based, and they are programmable. You are only going to be popped for the suppliers and the offers that pertain to the transaction; and only from the suppliers you want. If you want more pops, ask for them. Less or none? That’s ok too. It is completely programmable. The industry has information overload. After coming in on Monday and reviewing all the different specials from all of the suppliers, how do you keep it together? Leisure Pops will help you manage that. Now instead of booking Cancun with the supplier that just happens to be on your screen—which may be ok, you will get a pop asking if you want to look at the programmed preferred supplier. If not, click it closed and it goes away. There is virtually no interruption of the workflow.
JF: Who all is involved in this project?
LR: I am the President of Leisure Pops and we are a sister company to Booking Builder who has been in the travel technology business for over 11 years.
JF: Which suppliers are currently working with Leisure Pops and who do you have on your radar to bring on board?
LR: We are working with most major suppliers, websites, consortia, travel groups. We are willing to work with anyone that is looking to improve their agency channel sales.
JF: Speaking of on board, are there any plans to integrate cruising into this? While the cruise lines are notorious for whittling away the bottom line for agencies, there is still a lot of ancillary revenue to be had outside of the cruise line. ShoreTrips? Travel Bound? Auto Europe?
LR: We already do. Leisure Pops are particularly valuable in the cruise segment not only for ancillary revenue, but where you book it. You can book a cruise by several channels, but what if there was a special with the cruise line’s site where you earn an additional 2% commission? Wouldn’t you want to know about that? It is also great for any blocked space programs—now you will be alerted if a client might be able to take advantage of the program.
JF: What are your goals for Leisure Pops? How many desktops are you looking for in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years?
LR: We launched January 1 and are already on 10,000 desktops. I may be conservative, but I would like to see 20,000 by the end of the year!
JF: Why the need? Are travel professionals falling short in the sales process? Just leaving money on the table?
LR: Travel agents are great at what they do. Unfortunately, they all suffer from information overload and even for the most brilliant mind, it is impossible to keep up. Do you know every supplier incentive? Did you remember about that blocked space in on the Alaska sailing? Do you know how many more bookings it will take to move you to the next commission tier? Are you just processing a transaction? Or are you looking to foster a relationship with your clients? Anyone can sell a flight, transfer and a hotel in Vegas—Expedia does $20B + of them each year. But when you know your client and can seamlessly sell them a parking, a show, golf times, a spa treatment, and a dinner—you are the superstar. Plus you make more money.
JF: How can interested travel professionals get more information? Will you be offering demonstrations or be exhibiting at various trade shows?
If you are interested in learning a bit more about Leisure Pops (and you should) check out the website and the PowerPoint presentation.
Lee is the founder and was the CEO, GM and exclusive stock holder of Trams, Inc. for over 20 years. When Lee sold Trams to Sabre there were over 11,000 agencies using Trams Back Office and over 40,000 travel agents using ClientBase. Lee oversaw all aspects of the business including company strategies, product development, marketing, training, support, industry relationships and operations. Lee’s work at Trams included extensive industry speaking experience and advisory boards participation.
After selling Trams to Sabre, Lee stayed for three years and continued to run Trams operations as well as was promoted to running all of Sabre Leisure worldwide.