The first follow-up question for the executives quoted in Recommend’s November issue was about why their companies are popular with travel advisors. For example, which recent promotions and/or upgrades are attracting advisors? Their answers revealed a number of smart innovations.
Delta Vacations: Eric Fandek, Senior Director of Product Development at Delta Vacations
We continue to listen to our customers’ feedback and develop our hotel and experience offerings based on demand. We make very deliberate choices, from the products we choose for our portfolio to the hotel partners we select, and it all goes back to the customer experience. The hot travel trend is the ability to personalize or customize each vacation experience. This allows every customer to not only save time and cross off more items on their bucket list, but they can go at their own pace.
We’re always adding more personalized and customizable experiences. These include:
- Private Zimbali Sunset Experience in Jamaica, which features a trip to the Zimbali Mountain Cooking Studio for an organic, farm-to-table experience followed by a scenic drive to the world-famous Rick’s Cafe in Negril.
- Private Blue Hole Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica, during which participants explore the tropical rainforest and exotic waterfalls of Falmouth’s Blue Hole, with its hidden cave and multiple pools of bright blue water. This excursion also includes a tasty Jamaican dinner at Usain Bolts’ Tracks & Records Restaurant.
- Private Driver-Guide in Jamaica is a half- or full-day tour option during which a driver-guide shows visitors around the island with stops at churches, cathedrals, markets, and townsquares while the participants take in the beauitful scenery, sandy beaches, and friendly vibe of the community.
- Private Driver-Guide in the Dominican Republic is available from Santo Domingo—choose the full or half-day tour option—and from Punta Cana or La Romana (full day). This excursion allows visitors to see where Spanish civilization in the New World began. It includes historic buildings, including the first cathedral in the Americas, museums, and authentic cuisine.
For more information, visit delta.com/content/.
GOGO Vacations: John Van den Heuvel, President
Two initiatives we have rolled out this year include a new Groups Booking platform and a new CFAR offering. Go Covered, the 100 percent CFAR offering, features travel insurance alongside a true, 100 percent Cancel For Any Reason product. It has filled a gap for many of our advisors. We still offer our same suite of insurance products as well as this true CFAR product, and they’re bookable through any of our offices or via our booking engine.
Second, the new Groups Booking platform: This new technology, developed by Softtrip, will allow travel advisors to quote, book, and maintain their groups all online. The traditional GOGO way of booking groups—booking with a consultant directly—will remain for those who desire it, but this new technology serves advisors looking for automation.
[We are currently in a trialing period with our new Groups Technology, and the trials have gone well. We will be fully launching within the next 45 days.]
For more information, visit gogowwv.com.
Pleasant Holidays: Jack Richards, President and CEO
Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand Journese currently have relationships with top travel brands—e.g. 62 hotel chains and more than 80 airlines—to assist travel advisors as a one-stop source to book complete Caribbean vacation packages that include flights, resort accommodations, airport transfers, commissionable activities, and travel protection in one convenient transaction. Over the past three years, we have established direct connectivity to hotel partners for dynamic rates, room inventory, and instant reservation confirmations. Hotels and resorts are available for booking 12 to 24 months in advance for travelers who wish to book early for best rates and availability.
We recently lowered deposit requirements for all Caribbean and Mexico destinations, too. The new deposits are 75 percent lower, now $50 pp down from $200 pp. The lower deposits… help travel advisors compete more effectively with online travel agencies and membership-based travel companies. In addition, we’ve expanded our selection of commissionable in-destination activities in the Caribbean islands with Island Routes and Best Day Travel Services. Travel advisors can pre-book these activities…to enhance their clients’ vacation experiences as well as to grow their commission income. We also offer VIP Fast Track service and Club MoBay Airport Lounge access for Jamaica vacations.
TRIP, our Travel Reward Incentive Program, rewards travel advisors with points they may redeem for personal travel. We recently introduced Premier Tier for advisors who earn 25,000 or more TRIP points ($250,000 in qualifying bookings) in a year, which provides yet more perks and flexibility when using TRIP points. We’ve also expanded our Groups/Incentives Department to include Boutique Groups. Starting with groups needing as few as three rooms, Boutiques Groups is ideal for booking destination weddings, birthday celebrations, family reunions and more. It offers greater flexibility, with no contract required and varied itineraries.
For more information, visit pleasantholidays.com.
Travel Impressions: Scott Wiseman, President
In 2017 Travel Impressions underwent an enormous overhaul to make it even more profitable and useful to travel advisors. These changes have included EducaTIon First (a new emphasis on professional development), an #OnLocaTIon and #WeekendLearning social media series offering quick guides to properties, a “Monthly Makeovers” section on Travel Impressions’ website that’s devoted to useful updates, an expansion of benefits and incentives offered via the LoyalTI First program, a competitive Price Match Chat on the booking platform, the hiring of 200 more telephone representatives, a TI360 content (images, social media posts, eblasts, brochures, etc) that travisors can customize for their own marketing, a Flex Group program featuring greater perks and easier booking, a partnership with Villas of Distinction, and more.
This year we made quite a splash with our largest giveaway to date: a million LoyalTI First points. Our annual flagship “31 days of Giveaways” promotion is a favorite among agents as it truly offers a multitude of prizes with so many ways to earn entries into the contest. We’ve also got a really exciting promotion running with Majestic Resorts throughout the month of November.
Also in terms of innovations, we’ve recently shifted over to VAX VacationAccess. VAX offers significant enhancements over our previous system and makes working with Travel Impressions even easier.
For more information, visit travimp.com.