Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion // © 2017 Nexion
Feature image (above): Friedman shares her take on travel trends. // © 2017 Getty Images
As the president of Nexion — a host agency that helps travel professionals run and grow their businesses — Jackie Friedman is an expert in her field. Throughout her tenure at the company, Friedman has helped Nexion grow immensely in both membership and sales, with an emphasis on agent support and specialization programs. At this year’s CoNexion conference, she introduced Nexion’s new, cutting-edge technology platform, MyNexion, among other exciting advancements.
We sat down with Friedman to learn more about the company’s growth, travel agent trends, marketing initiatives and Nexion’s plans for the future.
Nexion recently consolidated with Travel Leaders Group. What kind of impact has this merger created?
The outcome of the merger has been quite positive for us. Well before Travel Leaders owned both Nexion and (consortium) Vacation.com, the two companies were affiliated with each other, and Nexion embraced the programs that Vacation.com offered. So when the two merged and became Travel Leaders Network, we continued to use those programs and have recently adopted a few of their newer programs, as well. For example, we now use their specialty training programs, which allow agents to receive specialty certifications in luxury, adventure, wellness and other fields. The second addition to our program base will be coming up within the next six months or so.
What were some highlights from this year’s CoNexion?
There was excitement around our technology upgrade, the MyNexion platform, which is probably halfway through its complete reveal. We started rolling it out prior to the conference and just released the second phase. The other highlight for me was just the overall agent engagement. The feedback we received regarding the professionalism of the agents really stood out at this conference and is something that I’m always proud of. We also had record attendance, which demonstrates that the independent home-based agent is thriving and here to stay.
Tell us more about MyNexion.
We like to say that MyNexion is “less technology that does more.” Basically, it’s going to be the new platform for our agents to use to work on their business. MyNexion is where they will go to access all the tools and booking platforms, as well as the platform’s new CRM, agent-made component. We are planning for MyNexion to ultimately become integrated into the engagement marketing platform, the Travel Leaders website and the Agent Profiler lead-generation programs. We want our agents to have one place they can go to for all the information they need.
The next phase would be integrating the finance and accounting component so that agents can have access to optional group modules and lead-generation modules. And as far as marketing initiatives are concerned, we have been putting a lot more emphasis on consumer marketing. A couple months ago, we did our first multi-dimensional consumer campaign with a digital and social component. It was extremely successful, so we have more planned.
What kind of feedback have you received from agents?
The feedback has been great. We have involved agents in every step of the process in terms of providing us with input about what we should incorporate. We’ve also had a group of agents who have been actively testing products. At the conference last month, they all had a chance to see some of the future releases, and the feedback was really tremendous.
How has membership changed over the last few years?
The one trend that we’ve seen and embraced over the last couple years is that there are more new agents coming into the business. This includes younger agents — which I always love to see — as well as agents who are entering the travel industry as an encore career.