You know it’s December at Recommend when you receive your annual Readers’ Choice Awards issue—the time when you, our readers, attest to the best of the best in our industry.
Still another interesting aspect of this issue—at least in our view—is that it’s also the time when the principals of those award-winning companies give their views and goals of what to expect in the upcoming year. And judging from those comments, it’s quite clear we’re going to see a continued trend of travel to Latin America and a renewed interest in travel to the Caribbean, judging from the planned increase in tour programs, new hotel/resort builds and renovations, as well as more cruise programs and increased air lift to those regions. On the other side of the world, tour operators and river cruise companies are super bullish on Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong where they’re anticipating record bookings, based on early buys already on the books. If you haven’t focused on that area of the world yet, now’s the time to start learning how to sell it if you want to cash in on the incredible interest to that region. The South Pacific, too, is set for a big push, with Australia looking to lure more North Americans there and with tour operators expanding their programs to the region. Cruise companies, too, are looking to expand cruise itineraries there, as well. The recent news that the U.S. military is being welcomed to Australia to utilize training facilities there for the first time, is bound to keep that region in the news for quite a while, which is always good for beefing up sales to a region.
If you, like me, are scratching your head over comments made outside the industry about the dire straights of the travel industry, take a look at some of the features relating to the hotel company winners. They’ve outlined new builds and expansion plans for properties all over the world—not just the Caribbean and Latin America as mentioned above. It’s absolutely phenomenal the amount of investment they’re talking about. The river cruise companies, too, are building new ships like crazy to keep up with demand and they’re expanding their fleet worldwide so, while I’m no rocket scientist, it would seem to me there must be some interest in travel to explain these enormous investments. Of course, those outside the industry who have been forecasting doom and gloom for travel are also the same people who have been forecasting the demise of the travel agent community for years. On a cheerier note, from all of us at Recommend to all of you, have the happiest of holidays and the most prosperous new year!
aruba certified expert specialist program
You’ll want to get right into our new specialist program for Aruba that’s included in this issue because this is a program that’s going to make you not only a very knowledgeable Aruba sales professional, it’s also going to be a very profitable program for you after you become an Aruba Certified Expert. It’s not an easy course because you’re going to have to utilize the online information we’ve outlined for you, as well as the print information, to pass the course. But the extra effort is going to be worth it because of the benefits of the destination’s new loyalty and rewards program. Agents who successfully become certified ACE agents are encouraged to record their Aruba bookings on the online Agent Transaction Monitor (ATM). The Aruba Tourism Authority monitors these bookings, and rewards the top-selling agents quarterly. In each of six sales regions in North America, the top-producing agent receives $300; second place receives $200; and third place receives $100 in rewards. At the end of the year, the overall top producer receives $1,000. Plus, throughout the year two random agents from the reporting database will be randomly selected to receive an Apple iPad.
Delta Air Lines will be publishing its first comprehensive guide to the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America in our January issue, bringing you the most up-to-date information on how to create the perfect vacation for your clients traveling to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Mexico and Latin America. To complement the guide, Delta will hold a readership contest based on questions from within the guide, and will distribute 50 tickets in a drawing from among all contestants who provide 100 percent correct answers, as well as the opportunity to purchase a ticket at the 75AD rate for a companion.