Roger Block

Roger E. Block, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network.

MailPound: How did you decide to pursue a career in the travel industry?

Roger: Originally, I followed in my father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in the banking industry after I graduated from the University of Florida. While working at a bank, I completed a project that studied the feasibility of placing a travel agency in each of our branches. During the study, I examined the agency distribution model, profitability of the agencies and other factors and realized that the agency community needed a support structure to provide the services that the small, independent agencies could not afford.

In 1980, I launched Travel Agents International, a startup turnkey franchise company. By 1997 we had expanded to 325 locations across the United States and were purchased that year by Carlson Wagonlit.

MailPound: With over 40,000 travel agents in Travel Leaders Network, what would you say are the most important traits of a successful travel agent?

Roger: Trust. Knowledge. Relationship-building. These three traits are among the most important traits for a successful travel advisor because building strong relationships based on trust is the backbone of any business. Our members are trusted travel advisors to their clients and to our supplier partners because they are knowledgeable and willing to learn more. Our advisors network with our suppliers to learn about their brands and destinations on a personal level through FAMs and workshops. This expertise showcases their passion and knowledge which translates into the in-depth knowledge and care they show their clients.

Our most successful advisors also have built a strong relationship with our headquarters teams by taking advantage of the hundreds of hours of education and training courses.

MailPound: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing travel professionals today?

Roger: Overtourism for popular destinations is one of the biggest challenges facing the travel industry today. As a result, travel professionals -- from tourism boards, hoteliers and tour operators to travel advisors -- are helping travelers balance the need to explore the iconic with experiencing lesser-known areas or traveling during off-peak seasons. The real challenge comes in educating the consumer about the advantages of responsible tourism as the solution to overtourism.

MailPound: How do you maintain your daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles or setbacks?

Roger: Travel Leaders Network is constantly evolving and innovating in order to differentiate ourselves in the industry and the amazing ideas that come from our headquarters teams as well as from our travel advisors provide me with daily motivation and inspiration.

For example, we recently launched an impressive program created in collaboration with American Express to allow Amex cardholders to redeem Membership Rewards points when they book travel with one of our US-based travel advisors. This is an exclusive opportunity not available through any other third-party travel agency group. Also, as part of the program, we are introducing The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group, a special travel benefit for U.S. Consumer Gold and Business Card Members.

MailPound: What would you say are the top four benefits of Travel Leaders Network?

Roger: Our Agent Profiler tool, our Special Certifications, our marketing programs and our Corporate Travel Management program are our top four benefits for Travel Leaders Network members. Specifically:

Agent Profiler - Agent Profiler was the travel agency industry’s first online tool to enable consumers to find the perfect travel advisor for their needs by selecting from a full-range of travel specialties, destinations and other search options. The tool allows travelers to browse image galleries and bios of thousands of travel advisors across North America, see where they have traveled and what they recommend. There are also star ratings and reviews – all of which helps the traveler select the best travel expert most suited for their own travel needs.

Specialist Certifications - We train travel advisors in a dozen different specialties, from Adventure Travel and Honeymoon and Destination Weddings to Luxury Travel and Business Travel. Approximately 200 agents per year graduate from one or more of our award-winning rigorous training programs.

Marketing Programs – our incredibly talented marketing team continually creates innovative, powerful marketing programs focusing on both retention and new customer acquisition. With over 350 different campaigns created each year, our award-winning magazines and our digital and social media programs directly impact our agencies’ sales.

Corporate Travel Management - Our business travel management division consists of agencies that cater to businesses to manage the needs of their travel policies and programs. These services save companies money on travel expenses, as well as frees them up to focus on their core business.

MailPound: What would you say was the most fun or memorable Travel Leaders Network event you attended?

Roger: I have been a part of this company and its predecessor companies for almost 40 years and we have had a lot of fun and memorable events. The most meaningful for me are the opportunities we have to celebrate and reward the successes of our travel advisors for their contributions to the Network, whether it is on stage during our Annual Conference handing out awards or celebrating their successes in other ways. For example, we take our top sellers on an annual Golden Circle and Elite Event and to be able to interact with them during these more relaxed settings is always enjoyable. In 2016, during our Golden Circle Bordeaux Wine and Tasting Tour in Bourg, France, I was inducted into the wine guild as an honorary “Connestablie de Guyenne.” This gala was a special moment and experience for all our Golden Circle attendees that year.

MailPound: What are some fun facts about yourself?

Roger: I love to golf, I just wish I were better, but that takes time to practice. When I have an opportunity during work or vacation travel to hit the course, that is always a highlight.