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Travel Impressions
Left to right: Jacki Marks, executive v.p., trade sales and engagement, Apple Leisure Group; Scott Wiseman, president, Travel Impressions; and Wendy Hoekwater, sr. v.p., marketing vacations, Apple Leisure Group.

2019? Not the “best of the best” for Travel Impressions and Apple Leisure Group—that’s the general consensus among executives of these brands, but they’re not looking in the rearview mirror, they’re looking to the future, and what they see looks pretty darn good.

“Everything we’ve done is with the philosophy of choice,” said Scott Wiseman, Travel Impressions’ president, during a press conference at Travel Impressions’ 24th annual Best of the Best conference and awards celebration, taking place at Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun.

Yes, it’s been a bumpy road, but they are heading into the new decade with optimism and with what they say is lots of great new product for travel advisors, including Apple Leisure Group’s recently launched WAVES Rewards Program; a redesigned website for Travel Impressions that will launch on Monday, Nov. 25 and which will integrate into VAX VacationAccess; a growth in product domestically and in Europe; and a strong focus on groups.

Wiseman points to the importance of building relationships on trust. “Like a bank account, I look to trust as something you can deposit and withdraw from based on an ongoing relationship…and we have spent 45 years building up a beautiful ‘trust bank.’”

As Jacki Marks, Apple Leisure Group’s executive v.p., trade sales and engagement, notes, “Travel Impressions doesn’t weather a year like 2019 if the foundation isn’t there.”

Wiseman says that TI will continue to “build that trust bank” by continuing to build enhancements that will make travel advisors’ lives easier. “We are staying relevant for travel advisors by investing in long-term solutions that add value to you.”

When speaking about the “trust bank,” Wiseman says that it’s important to “remind travel advisors that we are doing this [platform changes and technology enhancements] for them. What we have to offer today is so much better than what we were offering a year ago. We were the first of all the Apple Leisure Group brands to launch VAX VacationAcccess because we knew there was so much opportunity with this platform.”

Adds Marks, Travel Impressions now offers travel agents “a true one-stop shop [in terms of product] in a way that it wasn’t before, so they don’t have to go to three different places for booking” different vacations. “We’ve got villas, excursions, etc.”

Growth in Product
Travel Impressions now offers an expanded inventory that includes a 65 percent growth domestically, with 30 new states, and with U.S. National Parks trending this past year. In Europe, it’s a 23 percent growth in product, with new destinations and a heavy focus on places such as Portugal. There are more than 100+ escorted tour options, including in Asia, Africa, Eastern Med and the Persian Gulf. Overall, TI now offers 1,300 destinations; 250,000+ resorts and hotels; 2,500+ luxury villas; and 30,000 tours and excursions.

New Website
With the launch of the redesigned website this Monday, travel advisors will now be able to book any package from any landing page once logged in via a booking widget (no more having to open a new window to make a booking); click on any promotion to close that sale on the spot; and they’ll have an enhanced, easily maneuvered navigation. There’ll also be one-click access to popular resources; consumer-friendly pre-login content; and direct-from-Travel Impressions news.

WAVES Rewards Travel Advisor Partners
Travel agents are “really excited” about WAVES, says Marks. Apple Leisure Group, she says, “is the first to do something of this magnitude in the industry. This is ideal for those frontline agents, because they will now get the recognition for their sales.” WAVES allows travel advisors to book Travel Impressions and combine those points with those earned with sister brands for rewards. Agents will now have the opportunity to earn points on group bookings, contracted or Flex; and access special monthly offers.

For more information, visit travelimpressions.com. For more on WAVES, click here. Look for a full interview with Apple Leisure Group’s sr. v.p., marketing vacations, Wendy Hoekwater, in Recommend’s January/February print issue. And for what’s new at AMResorts, click here.

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