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MLT: School’s in SessionNovember 9, 2009 By: David Eisen Travel Agent
More than 1,600 travel agents attended MLT University’s education sessions and trade show
In travel agent circles, knowledge is, indeed, power. MLT Vacations’ 16th annual MLT University last month in St. Paul, MN, saw a heaping of it, as a gathering of nearly 1,600 travel agents participated in over 40 classes taught by destination experts as well as representatives of such sponsors as AM Resorts, Sol Melia Hotels, Palace Resorts and Barcelo Hotels and Resorts..
The tough economic climate had agents and suppliers alike in a cautious mood, but both parties were eager to learn and instruct. Regardless, the theme at this year’s event was “now is the time to travel.” (In fact, some suppliers compared their current rates to price ranges from a decade ago.) And, with the range of MLT’s vacation products, there was much to choose from.
During a morning general session, Vice President of Sales Terry Morrison acknowledged the tough operating environment but was bullish about the future. His message, “For you to be successful, you need to have the most up-to-date information and technology to sell our packages.” (MLT operates packages under three distinct brands: Worry-Free Vacations, Continental Airline Vacations and Delta Vacations, a product it took on in July. NWA WorldVacations transitioned into Delta Vacations on July 6.)
To that end, MLT is rolling out new initiatives and expanding its presence. For instance, it has already introduced 30 new destinations and plans 50 by year-end. Included is Los Cabos, which was announced as part of Continental’s Select Escapes Luxury and Delta Vacations’ Lifestyle Collection featuring Luxury. Terry Williams, vice president of Continental Airlines Vacations, stressed to agents the need to look at these programs. “Learn about these specialty programs,” she said, pointing out that clients who book Continental Airlines Vacations are guaranteed the lowest available airfares.
Meanwhile, Jana LaVell, regional manager, business development and sales, MLT Vacations, drew applause from agents after telling them that all airfares with the Delta Vacations brand were commissionable.
It also behooves agents to book a Continental Airlines Vacation, which has announced a new incentive where agents can earn five points for booking a qualifying Continental Airlines Vacations air and hotel package to any destination up to January 31, 2010. Accumulated points can be redeemed for an e- certificate valued at up to $1,500 for their personal travel.
In other MLT news, as of October 20, a deposit of only $100 is needed for all land-based bookings made more than 45 days in advance. Also, MLT Vacations has a new Flexible Getaways program across its Delta Vacations and Continental Airlines brands. The program is designed for small groups of 10 or more people who want to vacation at the same resort but need flexibility with travel dates, flights, length of stay and point of departure. The program is available at participating resorts in Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Las Vegas. Clients will save up to $200 per booking under Flexible Getaways, along with a $50 per booking rebate on the total price of the booking.
Ken Pomerantz and Larry Chestler, co-presidents of MLT, presided over a Presidential Forum toward the end of MLT University. There, they addressed the prevailing topics: global recession, H1N1, rate compression—all combining to eat into commissions. MLT has seen a 10 percent revenue decline this year, thanks in part to shrinking Mexico demand, which is down 15 percent.
But they have a game plan for this year and 2010: grow airline brands, expand destinations and product offerings and increase travel agent reach.
MLT Vice President of Sales Terry Morrison addressed the general session