Da Silva Takes The Helm At Trafalgar USA As Wiseman Brings ‘Consultative Selling’ To The Industry

by Cheryl Rosen
Da Silva Takes The Helm At Trafalgar USA As Wiseman Brings ‘Consultative Selling’ To The Industry

Melissa da Silva on Monday will take the helm of two TTC companies, Trafalgar USA and Brendan Vacations.


The buzz at The Travel Corporation (TTC) this week surely is all about the Consultative Selling Process. So it should come as no surprise that the first thing on Melissa da Silva’s agenda is meeting – or should we say consulting – with Trafalgar’s best customers, U.S.-based travel agents.

As Paul Wiseman steps down after 20 years at TTC, da Silva on Monday will take the helm of two TTC companies, Trafalgar USA and Brendan Vacations. Wiseman will stay on full-time through July before beginning his own consulting business, with TTC as his first client.

Wiseman will focus on the Consultative Selling Process, or CSP, a program broadly used in other industries but relatively new to the travel industry. Its core tenet, he explained to TMR in an interview yesterday, is to turn your attention during the sales process to the customer’s needs, to always place the emphasis on what the potential customer wants and needs, rather than what you want and need from the potential customer.

Over the next few months, Wiseman will be honing the program – which in theory, of course, sounds remarkably similar to what the best travel agents instinctively do – and tailoring it to meet the specific needs of travel industry players, he said. But TTC is no stranger to the program, what with Wiseman’s enthusiasm for it over the past months. And da Silva is taking a page from the CSP handbook as she describes her agenda as she heads into the corner office on June 6.

“First and foremost throughout June we have a number of advisory board meetings, so it’s an opportunity for me to spend some quality time with our travel partners and understand how we can work together," she told TMR. “From there we move into product launches for 2018, where one of our focuses will be on the emotional part of travel, what it is that helps people connect to travel. It’s not always rational; it’s about the memories and the growth experiences, the things that make us come back year after year. We want to make sure when we talk to our partners that that’s first and foremost.”

Coming as she does from within the TTC family, where she served as president of the Millennial-focused Contiki brand for the past four years, da Silva is excited to be stepping into “a banner year” at Trafalgar, where “nothing is broken. I’ve been able to sit with everyone on the team and get an understanding of what’s working and where we can double down.”

“Melissa is super smart and I am sure she will come up with some great ideas I never would have thought of,” said Richard Launder, president of TTC USA. Noting the advantage of “having the bandwidth to be able to fill positions from within,” he said “the collaboration across brands, the ability to use a brand like Contiki (where both da Silva and Wiseman got their starts) as an incubator of people and ideas, is fantastic and speaks to a special strength that makes us all feel proud.”

The Consultative Selling Process
Wiseman, meanwhile, has been “having conversations” with Launder and Gavin Tollman for some time about launching his own tailored version of CSP. “We’ve been using external companies to work with the CSP concept; we like to take external ideas and bring them to the industry. And with me understanding the company so well we’ve been talking for many months about this. We’re having a fantastic year at Trafalgar and Brendan, and it’s time for me to look at the next chapter and bring my passion for training and learning to the travel industry, to our retail partners, and to help TTC add value to our retail partners.”

The Consultative Sales Program rolled out three years ago at Contiki. “It’s a new way of working with our partners, a different way of looking at sales. We’ve been continuing to evolve it, and over the course of the past 12 months have been rolling it out globally," Wiseman said. "Richard has been the champion. I stand by it; I believe in it; I am a huge champion of it. If you ask the right questions it’s a whole lot easier to close the sale.

Wiseman credits CSP with helping push Trafalgar USA’s sales increase into “the high double digits” over 2015. “It’s a complete shift in mindset. Understanding exactly what the customer needs benefits everyone, at all levels of the organization, whether they are agency partners or consumers or consortia partners.”

Launder, who also began his career at Contiki, said he is “really excited to be able to give Melissa this opportunity to run our biggest brand in the United States.”

Wiseman, meanwhile, offered up the following advice for da Silva as she takes over his role: “We all know that the travel industry is a relationship business, so my first piece of advice would be to focus on relationships. My second would be to remain focused on the CSP concept of putting the customer first. And the final one would be to remember that a job like president is a marathon and not a sprint. Stay healthy, be well, and pace yourself.”

Da Silva, meanwhile, seems ready to go. “I’m excited to get my feet under the desk,” she said.

  1
  0
Tip of the Day

As travel advisors, we have to be curious. Curiosity leads to impactful connections that pave our road to success. - Jenn Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing, Travel Planners International

Daily Top List

Top Hotels in New York City

1. The Lowell

2. The Whitby Hotel

3. The Chatwal

4. The Mark

5. The High Line Hotel

Source: Travel + Leisure

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Headquarter Happenings: Avoya Travel's Focus on Land and New Technology
Headquarter Happenings: Avoya Travel's Focus on Land and New Technology

A new focus on land vacations, a new technology base, and new offices highlight the transition to a third generation of Andersons at the helm.

How One Agent Saved Her Client’s Group Trip to the Dominican Republic
How One Agent Saved Her Client’s Group Trip to the Dominican Republic

With clients growing increasingly fearful of the destination, Amoira Johnson used every skill in her travel agent toolkit to make a 25th wedding anniversary island celebration the best it could be.

Lindsay Pearlman Joins Travel Leaders as Head of International Leisure Division
Lindsay Pearlman Joins Travel Leaders as Head of International Leisure Division

Pearlman will report to Travel Leaders Network President Roger E. Block in the newly-created position.

How Advisors Can Handle Aircraft Safety Questions from Clients
How Advisors Can Handle Aircraft Safety Questions from Clients

In general, the answers to client questions about aircraft safety should be the same in each case. Here are suggested phrases to use.

The Rise of the ‘Surprise Travel’ Agency
The Rise of the ‘Surprise Travel’ Agency

Companies like Pack Up + Go are shaking up the industry by promoting surprise travel experiences rather than destinations.

Travel Agent New to the Industry is Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream
Travel Agent New to the Industry is Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream

A successful real estate broker and finishing law school, this go-getter is now building a travel agency using her skills in customer service, business development, training, and consulting.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks