As Senior Vice President of Global Business, Christian is responsible for strategic global partnerships and new business development. In this role, he delivers exceptional service to Collette’s travel partners. He is also responsible for leading the business and growth efforts in our international offices located in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. Christian joined Collette in 2007. He holds an MBA from Babson College and a Bachelor’s degree in business from the University of New Hampshire.
Active in the local community, Christian serves on the board of City Year Rhode Island. He is an avid sports fan and is passionate about team sports, especially youth activities. In his free time, Christian can be found spending time with his wife and three children.
Travel Research Online: Hello, Christian. How’s the northeast treating you, buckling down for the winter?
Christian Leibl-Cote: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. I’m originally from Canada, so the winter doesn’t bother me much – it’s a great time to focus on planning your next great trip.
TRO: You’ve been with Collette for almost 13 years, and have probably seen a lot of changes in the industry along the way. How are you personally adapting to the current COVID-19 circumstances?
CLC: During my time at Collette, I’ve witnessed significant growth, as well as the ability to adapt to almost any situation. When a company has been in business for 100+ years, it comes with the reassurance that our leadership team is able to pivot and manage all that comes with these difficult times.
TRO: With the obvious situation at hand, forming partnerships seems vital to the prosperity of all in the travel industry. How does Collette go about forming these beneficial partnerships in the industry?
CLC: Our partnership team has really developed some great relationships over the years with our agent partners, vendors, and tourism boards. We know that they are facing many of the same challenges that we are right now, and we want to work together in order to continue providing great service and a terrific product that we can all feel confident about.
TRO: Collette recently announced the implementation of an Advanced Commissions Program for Travel Advisors. Was this in the plans for pre-COVID, or is it a direct response to the pandemic?
CLC: Our team is always looking at ways that we can support the travel agent community and recognize their hard work and dedication. During times like this, that’s even more crucial. We understand the frustration of agents who need to earn commissions to protect their own livelihood, and it’s the catalyst for our implementation.
TRO: What are the conditions of rates advanced to the Advisor, do they depend on the type of booking and dates booked?
CLC: The Advanced Commission Program will run from September 9, 2020 until December 31, 2021, and will be applicable for all departures from May 1, 2021 and beyond. This means that Travel Advisors will be able to earn advanced commission on all tours in their newly released 2021-2022 Worldwide Travel Guide and the much-anticipated Oberammergau 2022 tours. Upon deposit, Collette will pay a portion of the full commission amount – that amount varies on the type of booking.
TRO: How does an agent sign up for the Advanced Commission Program?
CLC: Signing up is not necessary, it is being tracked in our booking system. Agents will receive payment in the month following the deposit.
TRO: What can the Advisor expect if the client cancels their trip for some reason?
CLC: From guests who are considering new bookings, agents can be assured that their clients will have the opportunity to move their tour date until up to 60 days prior departure with no fee! When guests purchase our industry-leading Travel Protection Plan, they can cancel for any reason and get their money back – all the way up to 24 hours before their trip departs. We’ve offered this plan for decades to give our travelers assurance every step of the way – with no blackout windows or hidden restrictions.
To protect the hard work of the Travel Advisor community, Collette will not recall the advanced commission payments if the client cancels.*
TRO: As COVID times seem to be fading a bit, how else is Collette planning for the travel boom in the near future?
CLC: We are looking ahead to a really promising future, especially in the second half of 2021. We know that there is a pent-up demand for travel and have adapted our tour model, in order to take the necessary precautions to keep guests and employees safe. Our team consults with health and security experts all around the world to ensure a healthy and enjoyable travel experience. As part of our traveling well experience, we have taken the steps to enact pre-tour health screenings, the use of face coverings throughout the tour, and tours will operate with a number of empty seats to allow for spacing.
TRO: Christian, thank you for time. We’re looking forward to a prosperous time for Collette and everyone else in the travel industry.
CLC: I appreciate the time and look forward to speaking with you in the future.
(*Terms and Conditions note: Advanced commission payments valid on new retail bookings only, and are not applicable for group bookings. Commission advancement amount will be deducted from remaining commissions due following travel.)