July 21, 2024

Adventure Destinations League

Navigating Travel Wonders

What Travel Edge president Andrew Pilkington heard on his listening tour: Travel Weekly

Jamie Biesiada

Jamie Biesiada

When Andrew Pilkington joined Travel Edge as its president, the first thing he did was hit the road.

Pilkington, whose new role was announced in December, wanted to meet Travel Edge Network’s advisors. Over the course of a few months, he went all over, including California, New York, Miami, Bermuda and multiple stops in Canada.

“I’ve got two ears and one mouth, and I was always taught that it was good to use them in the correct proportion,” Pilkington said. “So I didn’t do a lot of talking. I did a lot of listening. I asked a lot of questions.”

On his “listening tour,” something surprised him: Most advisors were pleased with the technology Travel Edge Network offers, in particular, its ADX booking platform. Technology is often a problem in his experience, and it’s not cheap, easy or fast to address.

But there was an area Travel Edge Network members felt could be address, Pilkington said: “fostering more of a sense of community.”

“I heard time and again from many top luxury travel advisors that this is, quoting them, this is actually quite a lonely job,” he said.

As a result, Travel Edge Network has plans to host several in-person events this year. There will be larger events, but also events held at a local level, Pilkington said. The events will welcome advisors and suppliers alike.

Pilkington hopes it will address not only the desire for community among advisors, but also give them fun and educational experiences.

Coming home to travel

Pilkington came to Travel Edge (which has three divisions: host agency Travel Edge Network, Travel Edge Retail and Travel Edge Corporate) from TD’s Canadian Personal Bank. But travel has always been a thread in his career, he said.

He started that career with British Airways before joining American Express on the travel side. He ran JP Morgan’s global commercial card business for travel. Then he moved into consumer banking and TD’s Canadian branch network.

“But I always thought my roots were in travel, and when I made the decision to actually leave banking, it was very much with the thought of coming home to travel,” Pilkington said.

A fuller full-time job

Right now, Travel Edge Network’s advisors are busy. The job has become “24/7, to a certain extent,” Pilkington said. Client service comes first.

To address that, Travel Edge Network is working on connecting new-to-industry advisors with mentors, bringing more-seasoned and newer advisors together to share knowledge. Pilkington said the network is also developing a program that will welcome newbies into select locations, train them and give them a start in the industry.

“That’s another small way, but every small step is important to actually driving that sense of community, giving something back to the community by employing locally, driving more people into the industry for very positive reasons,” he said.

He also hopes to introduce ways for advisors to work more efficiently, freeing up more of their time to interface with clients.

Pilkington is bullish on the travel industry overall. He called its post-Covid bounce back “amazing,” as has been the elevation of the role of travel advisor.

“I’m just so excited about the way the industry is going,” he said. “I think it’s a really exciting and noble profession.”

link