Gregg Truman has been working with Venere since it became a premier travel agent online hotel booking tool in North America. His 20+ years of experience in promoting international travel has become a valuable asset as he personally assists travel agents through the Venere travel agent program. Gregg has long believed that travel agents are the key to any industry success and the results since he has been working with Venere are impressive. There are now over 3,000 travel agents in the Venere program in North America, and the support team, led by Gregg and based in New York, helps travel agents on a wide range of issues. Gregg also leads scheduled Venere webinars on for professional travel agents on a regular basis.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What drove you to pursue a career in the travel industry?
Gregg Truman (GT): I love to travel. I love to meet new people, have different experiences, eat local cuisine and just explore the world. I think my love of travel was cemented early on when my travel agent was able to get me a great B&B in Savannah, GA, when the city was sold out for a big event. He also provided me with a wealth of information on what to see, what to do, and where to eat. It made me realize the importance and the role of a good travel agent. Who knows? If that trip was awful, I may have become an accountant.
TRO: Tell us about your role at Venere.com.
GT: I am the North American manager for Venere. I work with travel agents seeking an online hotel booking tool that makes it easy for them to earn big commissions on properties around the US and around the world. No two days are the same, as I follow up with agents on a myriad of issues and help them find the best ways to utilize the TAI (Travel Agent Interface) and help them send their clients around the world.
TRO: What is unique about the services Venere.com offers to travel agents?
GT: Venere is a hotel online booking tool, and when I say hotel, I mean Resort, B&B, Chateau, Guest House, and Apartment Rental. We offer a diverse range of properties that are not always found through GDS systems. The ability to search for such a diverse range of properties provides travel agents with tremendous options when finding the right property for their clients.
The great rates that are offered are another benefit, because they are usually the same as to what consumers find online. The primary difference is that agents booking those “same rates” on Venere earn a minimum 8% base commission.
TRO: Venere has experienced a lot of growth and change since you started with them. Tell us about it.
GT: I have been responsible for managing Venere in North America for the past 16 months. In that time, we have seen an increase of the number of agents using the interface by almost 40%. We are constantly working on our website and have made some terrific improvements in our travel agent platform. Some of the biggest changes are that the system now automatically stores all of your searches, your reservations, and your hotel queries, so that when a client calls an agent back a few days later and asks about that great villa in Tuscany, the agent will see that information on their home page in Venere. It’s a big time saver.
Venere was also one of the first travel websites to offer traveler reviews and now provides over 1.4 million actual Venere traveler reviews. This provides a wealth of information for travel agents to insure that they are making the best choices for their clients whether their clients are traveling next week or next year.
TRO: What do you think is currently holding the travel industry back?
GT: I think one of the issues with our industry is that we do not recognize and reward the people doing the work and driving the business. Travel agents are the lifeblood of our industry and the fact that there are too many suppliers trying to work around this channel of distribution is mind-boggling to me. I believe if there was more transparency between suppliers and agents, as well as between agents and consumers, then more trips would be booked and more incremental revenue would be earned by all parties.
TRO: Is there any aspect of Venere.com you think agents should be more aware of?
GT: Our exemplary customer service. Our support team is based in New York, and handles questions and problems as they arise in real time. Our team follows up diligently and provides timely feedback to minimize any issue that agents may have. We have a number of agents that appreciate the personalized attention and have begun calling our team “the real face behind the interface”.
I would also like to point out that Venere is a travel agent’s tool. And while there are some larger agencies using Venere, Venere is best poised to help small and independent agents level the playing field and book properties at favorable rates around the world, all while earning top commissions.
TRO: What are some of you favorite travel destinations to date?
GT: I love to travel, and I have used Venere to book properties around the US and the world. I am usually traveling with my wife and daughter and our next trip is usually to my next favorite destination. We often choose international destinations to broaden our horizons. Our last trip was to South Africa, but other favorite places include Barcelona, Chester, UK, and Buenos Aires.
TRO: What can agents and other travel industry experts expect to see on the horizon from Venere.com?
GT: At Venere, we believe that we can never stop improving. We are in a competitive business against some of the largest online travel companies in the world. We have our development team hard at work making improvements to our platform that will allow agents to do even more. We are calling it Venere 3.0 and it is expected to roll out early this summer.
One other aspect that we are focusing on is training. We believe that an educated travel agent is our best resource. We will be doing advanced training sessions for small groups of agents to help them learn about Venere and the system enhancements so that they can use our platform to their maximum advantage.
If you would like more information or to be included in the next webinar, where you can learn all about Venere and how to earn big commissions in their program, please contact Gregg at Venere@APG-USA.us