More than 5,000 Vacation.com members are reaping the benefits of two agency innovations that may well smooth the road for them in what may be a bumpy business road this year – the EZguider, a unique, highly efficient booking platform, and new tweaking in its direct mail program that qualifies consumers, the Engagement program.
The EZguider, explains Steve Tracas, president & CEO of Vacation.com, is “…the next generation integrated booking platform with side-by-side shopping comparisons. There’s nothing like it in the marketplace. It has the content of every cruise line loaded on that desktop so members don’t have to jump from supplier site to supplier site. And it takes all that content and puts it in the order they want to see it in. It can be in order of supplier, it can be in order of price, it can be in order of Vacation.com specials. It takes all the cruise content and puts it on a side-by-side display on your desktop. On the same site,” he adds, “it has four insurance providers, as well, so you don’t have to leave the site to book your insurance on the cruise.”
On the same site, Tracas points out, in addition to the cruise content, it has content on GLOBUS, COSMOS, MONOGRAMS, AVALON WATERWAYS, TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS and TRAVEL BOUND. VIKING RIVER CRUISES is due in the first quarter. “And the biggest differentiator is that it will have air – it will have all the domestic and international air that any GDS would have on that site come first quarter,” Tracas says, “without a GDS contract and without an affiliation other with Vacation.com And there’s no installation on this. It’s a web-based tool so if you have a PC and you become a member of Vacation.com, you enter into EZguider through our portal, which all of our members are very familiar with, and you have the most sophisticated leisure booking platform in the United States at your fingertips.”
Tracas says it not only makes Vacation.com agents more productive, but it also allows the organization to focus in on the suppliers and highlights specials they may offer to the membership and it also lists special commissions, bringing both these topics to the forefront so that when the agent goes to do a booking, they can use that information as well as close the sale. In addition to the supplier content they can book on EZguider, it also interfaces with TRAMS, the back-office system.
“We’re providing them a $3 bonus per booking with EZguider to get them interested, get them using it and to revenue share with our members. We’ve been having training classes his week and we’ve had over 250 members who have signed up and are taking training classes just in this week alone to get up to speed on EZguider,” Tracas says. “We have a thousand members who have registered to get on the site. So we’ve been rolling it out and developing it since our conference in June, which is where our members got their first look at it. We’ve had input from our members based on functionality that they would like to see and our ability to bring it to the marketplace. Now it’s ready – it’s ready for ‘Wave’ season and it’s by far the superior product out there in the marketplace and it’s proprietary to Vacation.com users.”
On the Engagement program changes, Tracas says, “We’ve really, I believe, outdistanced ourselves in the marketplace. Not only doesn’t anybody have a product like EZguider, the Engagement program – which is pretty much a household direct mail and marketing program – has a new module where we run a mailing list of our members through a segmentation that drives relevant content to the traveler. We know if someone is single, if they’re married, if they have children, if they’re a female or male. So when we do a direct mail mailer, it has relative content to who that consumer is and their lifestyles. In other worlds, if someone gets a direct mailer from Vacation.com on behalf of our members, if they’re single without kids, they’re not going to get any pictures with kids. If they’re a family with kids and they’re adventurous, they’re probably going to see outdoor activities with families in pictures. And the content or the writing in the mailer will be pertinent to them.”