Travel Leaders franchisees Bonnie and Walter Lee of Albertville, were recently recognized as the best in the business among hundreds of Travel Leaders locations nationally. The couple was honored with this year’s “Associate of the Year” award for epitomizing excellence in service to clients and for their effective use of the Travel Leaders brand over the course of the past year.
The honor was bestowed during a special ceremony at the 2013 Travel Leaders National Meeting taking place in Atlanta, at the Hyatt Regency.
“Bonnie and Walt literally started their agency from the ground up–in their basement in the 1990’s. From the outset, their intent was to build a successful travel agency in a way that was different. Their focus and dedication on a model that specializes in Independent Contractors (ICs) is what helps drive their growth. In the last five years, Travel Leaders Albertville has added an additional 350 active agents and increased their sales volume by 125 percent,” said Roger E. Block, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. "While their agency model may be somewhat different, their end goal is not. They are passionate about travel and are stellar in providing their clients with an exceptional level of knowledge and expertise before, during and after each trip."
The Lees have taken Travel Leaders Albertville from a start-up business to a thriving enterprise – predominantly focused on leisure travel – that is well over $50 million in annual sales. Their business now hosts over 475 ICs across the country, in addition to their full-time travel agents working out of their Albertville, agency. The Lees have also created an environment that is inclusive of talent that is new to the travel industry. In attracting younger professionals to the travel agency business, the average age of their agents is only 36 years old – approximately 20 years below the national average.
In particular, Bonnie Lee has specialized in destination weddings and honeymoons for over 15 years. For brides- and grooms-to-be along with honeymoon couples, Travel Leaders Albertville offers individualized, custom websites, personalized “save the date” emails, online guest registration, and wedding/honeymoon registries. In additional to one-on-one travel consultations, Lee has conducted small-group webinars for perspective clients, allowing them to start the planning process from the comfort of their own homes.
In order to be considered for the Associate of the Year award, Bonnie and Walter Lee first had to earn Travel Leaders’ “Agency of Excellence” award, which they won on Thursday for the fourth year in a row. Only 24 franchisees nationally were honored with that distinction.