“Our booking window has shortened and we’ve seen a small softening of fares, but not much really,” says Tyri Squyres director of marketing for Allegiant Air.
Similar tones are heard from Farmington, NY-based Travel Impressions, one of the top-performing tour operators to Las Vegas.
“We’ve been advertising the reduced rates that our partners have implemented,” says Travel Impressions spokesperson Sallie Rawlings, “and are actually up 21 percent compared to the same time last year.”
To give agents added selling power, the company runs promotions that focus on the excitement of Las Vegas and offer consumers a value-added component free of charge. They also run a sweepstakes and send a lucky winner on a Las Vegas vacation.
A sample Travel Impressions package from New York’s JFK on Delta Air Lines includes roundtrip airfare, roundtrip airport/hotel transfers, 3-night hotel accommodations, and hotel tax with rates ranging from $449 to $699. Accommodation options range from Circus-Circus Hotel & Casino to Bellagio.
Funjet Vacations offers yet another valuable option, with hotel-only rates starting at $59 pp dbl for a 3-night stay. You can also add a visit to Madam Tussauds for $24 pp as well as a Blue Man Group show for an additional fee. Air add-ons are also available.
US Airways Vacations and GOGO offer value-added promotions and policies that favor agents while giving them something to sell.
“US Airways Vacations has made 100 percent of our US Airways air segments fully commissionable and all segments are considered bulk air. This not only helps agents make more commission on our packages but also makes the air portion of the itinerary more customer friendly and makes our WaiverPlus option much more valuable. No more messy published air issues,” says Ames. “Another option that we offer exclusively to the travel agent community that they may not realize is the ability to allow their customers to pay over time. With a modest deposit to secure the package, we will take as many or as few payments needed to pay for the package by 45 days prior to travel.”
GOGO’s Luddington believes there is still plenty of gold to be found under the neon if agents just do their job.
“Agents have realized that they CAN make money selling Vegas by adding sightseeing, shows, limo transfers and more to a Las Vegas package,” he says. “We are seeing some more bachelor and bachelorette packages to Vegas and of course, destination weddings, whether they be vow renewals on the Grand Canyon Rim, first-time nuptials or the second or third time around.”
Luddington stresses that agents can buy GOGO packages with confidence with the company’s “no worries” policies such as price beat guarantees and no change fees.
“We have great product at the hotel level as well as our sightseeing and ground services that will allow the agents to create a custom experience for their customers. There are so many value added components today in Vegas. Upgrades, match plays, we’ve even seen some ‘free nights’ in Vegas for the first time in years!”