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Caribbean, Mexico Marketing Alliance Looks to “Change the Tour Operator/Travel Agent Dynamic”November 17, 2011 By: Joe Pike
TAUnite, which officially launched on November 1, was formed by Berwick Travel (www.BerwickTravel.com), BeachBum Vacation (www.BeachBumVacation.com) and TripGuy Travel (www.TripGuy.com) in an effort to improve Caribbean and Mexico sales by providing agents with better access to unique and exclusive deals in the marketplace.
“We are looking to change the tour operator/travel agent dynamic,” says Steve Umstead, director of marketing at Berwick Travel. “Our tour operator partners recognize that travel agents are their primary distribution channel and are opening up access with their internal product departments (for Caribbean and Mexico) to jointly develop opportunities for our mutual benefit.”
The initial list of its partners will only consist of two tour operators and six to eight resort chains. Its tour operator partners are Travel Impressions and Funjet Vacations. Resort chains they are currently working with include Real Resorts, Palace Resorts, Karisma Resorts and Couples Resorts.
“No existing Consortiums or similar affiliations are focusing directly with Resort chains, where we believe we have the strongest need since they are the largest provider of value in the vacation sales transaction,” says Robert Whorrall, director of marketing at BeachBum Vacation. “We are further expanding our relationships directly with Resort Chains to bring added value not just to agencies and agents – but to our clients as well. We hope to further differentiate the customer experience by demonstrating that there is a major difference between booking with an OTA and booking with a full-service specialty agency that has material relationships with the resorts we are selling on a consistent basis.”
There are also a few other resort brands that TAUnite has just began discussions with. They hope to have these brands on board by January 1.
“Our partnership with TAUnite affords an opportunity to align ourselves with a top travel agent group experienced in directing all-inclusive business to luxury suppliers,” saus Rafael Chapur, chief operating officer for Palace Resorts. “TAUnite’s wealth of expertise, coupled with Palace Resorts’ 27 years of proven success in providing the premier all-inclusive guest experience, creates a strong, mutually beneficial industry partnership that we look forward to fostering for years to come.”
TAUnite also recently partnered with the Ensemble Travel Group, an organization of 850 travel agencies in the U.S. and Canada. The Ensemble Travel Group can now offer TAUnite agency partners valuable offerings such as Ensemble Hosted Cruises, Ensemble Hotel & Resort Collection, and more.
“We all strongly believe that by aligning, our aggregated sales volume, relationships, and consultative selling approach will allow us to continue to grow faster than the market, further enhanced by working closer with tour operators and hoteliers,” says Mark Toren, vice president of sales at TripGuy. “TAUnite should increase the likelihood of our agencies continuing to grow (or grow faster) by also providing better access to unique and exclusive deals in the marketplace –especially for targeted promotions, distressed inventory, or similar situations where OTAs (Online Travel Agents) generally were the only players in the game.”
Toren noted that the cruise industry has had many such agency alliances in the past and “felt that a similar organization could and should add value in our niche.”
"We are so pleased to be a tour operator partner of TAUnite,” says Steve Gorga, president of Travel Impressions. “All of us at Travel Impressions have worked extremely closely with the key partners of this group for many years, and recognize them as being among our best of the best. TI looks forward to being part of this new venture and to building that same level of partnership with TAUnite’s new members as they come on board."
TaUnite is primarily targeting agencies with a minimum of $1 million in Caribbean/Mexico sales annually. An agency can join by applying at www.TAUnite.com.