Literally growing up in the travel business through his family’s agency, Perry Lungmus found an early passion to explore the world. He gained hands-on travel sales and marketing experience while sharing that passion, which eventually led him to a 25-year career of leadership roles with several of the world’s top luxury tour companies and travel agency groups. Today, based in Seattle, Lungmus leads the development of a multi-faceted luxury and experiential travel program for brands within Travel Leaders Group, North America’s largest travel agency network, offering specialized sales, marketing and training support for thousands of Travel Leaders agents.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You grew up in the travel business, but at what point did you decide that you wanted to continue in the travel industry instead of exploring other careers?
Perry Lungmus (PL): I was fortunate to travel to some pretty exotic destinations around the globe while I was really young, and loved discovering new places. Even the years after college, while my friends were making what seemed like a lot of money and working their way up corporate ladders, I was still out exploring. At one point I did have concerns about “getting behind”, until I finally realized I could use all that travel experience and make a nice living by doing what I enjoy most. I got a nice break into the tour operator side of the industry, loved it, and never looked back. No regrets whatsoever – I’d not trade any of that time or those experiences for a different career path. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way – many former colleagues left the industry but always came back, and I know many of our agency owners and staff have similar stories.
TRO: Tell us about your day-to-day role at Travel Leaders Franchise Group.
PL: My job is fundamentally to understand the needs of our agency owners and find creative solutions. If there are two basic things that I’ve heard from agents throughout my career it boils down to “find me good new clients” and “find me good new salespeople”. Those needs are nuanced from group-to-group or agency-to-agency, but that’s the really interesting and satisfying problem-solving bit. At Travel Leaders I’m lucky to partner with a very clever, energetic internal group and leadership that share that view and love exploring new ideas. The output has been strong, with educational and marketing support to sell more luxury travel, honeymoons, or adventure travel, and the tools to help them connect with those good new clients they seek. To help address their need for salespeople, I’m also deeply involved with the team that supports host agencies, from program management to new IC recruitment, and it’s been very satisfying work.
TRO: What advantages as an agency does Travel Leaders Franchise Group offer travel agents?
PL: First, we’re a franchise organization, and the meaning of the Travel Leaders brand and value of association with the company continues to grow quickly. Because of our structure, we have to prove that value to our agencies and agents every day. To do that, we align ourselves as an extension of their offices; we’re engaged and constantly making investment into tools and programs that create new business opportunities, make their company easier to operate, or simply more efficient. The business partnership and personalities involved has created a family-like environment unlike any I’ve seen in business, with lots of peer-to-peer sharing and support.
Second, we serve a very broad range of agency types: from small to very large with a middle-market, premium, and luxury leisure focus or entirely corporate. The needs are very different but we have the talent, relationships, and infrastructure to serve them all with the same high quality level of service. I don’t know of any other organization that serves that particular scope as professionally.
TRO: How would an agent join the Travel Leaders Franchise Group network?
PL: An agency owner wishing to find out more about joining Travel Leaders should visit www.JoinTravelLeaders.com and connect with us. An Independent Contractor or agent wishing to find a nearby Travel Leaders office should visit www.TravelLeadersHosts.com to see locations and profiles of offices and exactly the right match.
TRO: How is Travel Leaders Franchise Group utilizing technology to serve their agents?
PL: On the leisure side there has been huge investment in a marketing platform to serve agencies and agents – real industry-leading innovation. Add to that a proprietary client-to-agent level matchmaking tool called Agent Profiler on www.TravelLeaders.com that’s based on leveraging an agent’s specialty. We’ll deliver tens of thousands of new leisure traveler leads to our agents this year with terrific sales results. On the corporate side, we’ve partnered or negotiated with the best-of-class technology and management tools to make adoption by our member offices more efficient.
TRO: If a travel agent has very specific needs, how can Travel Leaders, as a management company, work with them?
PL: While Travel Leaders has broad educational, marketing, and new business leads support for some of the most popular travel categories such as luxury, honeymoon and adventure travel, what we’ve found is that the Agent Profiler can also effectively match travelers to agents on very specific (even esoteric) product, destination, or experiences specialization. For example, travelers can find an agent that has certain language skills, activity experience, or understands how to serve very specific family needs. It’s provided agents and consumers with a whole new world of options in finding one-another for better traveler experiences and better agent business.
TRO: What is your favorite travel destination to date?
PL: The continent of Africa has it all. If one isn’t fascinated, awed, enamored, and even humbled by the experiences it has to offer, they shouldn’t bother to travel at all!
TRO: What is on the horizon for Travel Leaders Franchise Group?
PL: Many interesting ideas brewing around agent specialization, group sales and the connection between corporate and leisure travel. Given advancements in consumer technology and the evolving role of travel agents, there are lots of dots that can now be connected!
To learn more about Perry Lungmus and Travel Leaders Franchise Group, visit them online at www.TravelLeaders.com.