Direct Travel has launched an enhanced program, Ascent, to serve its independent contractors.

The program includes professional development and mentoring, lead generation and collaboration. 

Gerard Bellino, executive vice president of leisure travel, Direct Travel.

Gerard Bellino, executive vice president of leisure travel, Direct Travel.

Each letter of Ascent stands for an element of the program, Direct Travel said: Access to systems, partners and backup for advisors and their clients; support in business development, lead generation and strategic suppliers; collaboration and a strong sense of community; elevate, to ensure success in building and maintaining business; networking, to help advisors build relationships with partners, colleagues and collaborators; and training and development, with access to Virtuoso Travel Academy, ongoing professional development and more.

“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,” Stephen Smith, senior vice president of leisure marketing, said in a statement.

Direct Travel said the new program’s launch coincides with two new hires at Direct Travel. Joelle Goldman, formerly a Virtuoso employee, is in the new role of vice president of host services, and Nicole Goodheart, formerly of CWT Vacations, is in the new role of director of 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 [independent travel advisors] — one which will have long-term value for them,” said Gerard Bellino, Direct Travel’s executive vice president of leisure travel.

According to its 2020 Power List entry, Direct Travel had more than 700 independent contractors.