Travel Leaders hopes to get a lot more out of American Express program

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. — Enrollment and transaction volume in
Travel Leaders Group’s Apex program with American Express have fallen short of
expectations.

About 2,500 agents have signed up for the program that lets them
book travel for Gold and Platinum card members, and just 2,600 transaction have
been completed.

Officials discussed the program during Travel Leaders Network’s annual
EDGE conference here.

Announced at EDGE one year ago, Apex enables Travel Leaders
agents (including Travel Leaders Network members) to service Gold and Platinum
American Express card members with exclusive travel discounts and amenities.
Advisors can also do transactions that use clients’ Membership Rewards points
to purchase travel.

In a fireside chat with Travel Leaders Network president
Roger Block and Travel Leaders Group founder and chairman Michael Batt, Travel
Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko said adoption of the Apex program has “gone
far more slowly than I would have expected.”

Batt praised Chacko for sealing the deal with American
Express, and he encouraged agents to undergo the necessary training to
participate. “It would be crazy not to,” he said.

During a media briefing later in the day, Block said he
helped design the Apex program. Block owned travel agencies in the 1980s and
said he would have been thrilled to offer clients discounts that competitors
could not, so he had high hopes when Apex was introduced.

To help boost the program, the required training has been
cut in half, Block said.

In a media briefing Sunday, Chacko said another 2,500 agents
are training so they can participate in Apex. Combining those participants with the 2,500
agents who have completed the training already, that accounts for about 10% of
the agents affiliated with Travel Leaders Network.

So far, about 831 million Membership Rewards points have
been redeemed by Apex agents.

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