Direct Travel Launches ASCENT Program for ITAs

As part of its campaign to build its team of Independent Travel Advisors, the senior management of Direct Travel (whose leisure arm in Canada is Vision Travel) have launched their new ASCENT Program.

Including professional development and mentoring, lead generation and collaboration, the program’s launch coincides with the recent recruitment of two highly respected individuals to the group’s senior management team: Joelle Goldman, formerly with Virtuoso, in the new role of Vice President, Host Services; and Nicole Goodheart, formerly with CWT Vacations, in the new role of Director, Leisure Operations.


“In a world where travel has been turned upside down and revenues are scarce, we felt the need to establish a program to further support our ITAs – one which will have long-term value for them,” stated Gerard Bellino, Executive Vice President, Leisure Travel.

“ASCENT is an acronym that spells out each element of the program,” said Stephen Smith, Toronto-based Senior Vice President, Leisure Marketing. “From access and support to training and development, it’s a full package for the independent travel advisor or the agency owner looking for a new host.”


A is for Access to systems, partners, and back-up for advisors and their clients

S is for Support in business development, lead generation and strategic suppliers

C is for Collaboration and a strong sense of community

E is for Elevate: to ensure success in building and maintaining business

N is for Networking: helping advisors build relationships with partners, colleagues and collaborators

T is for Training and Development, with access to the Virtuoso Travel Academy, continual supplier training, and ongoing professional development including weekly Town Hall zoom calls with Direct Travel’s senior management.

Many of the ASCENT components are proven success strategies, including the Dream Away series of virtual events to which advisors are welcome to invite their clients. “On multiple occasions, we have had a client make a booking with their advisor in the middle of the event,” Smith recalled.

According to Brian Robertson, President, Canada West region of Direct Travel, ASCENT is the right combination of a solid, accessible support system, the latest technology in the industry and the prestige of a great partnership with Virtuoso, the world’s leading luxury travel network.

“We have a marketing team to drive client engagement and generate leads for all advisors; a supplier management team that builds personal relationships with regional and national suppliers; and a leadership team which has strong connections to key decision makers at a global level,” added Robertson.

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