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A New Array of Agent ChampionsAugust 6, 2007 By: Jennifer Merritt Travel Agent
Your clients aren't the only ones on the move this summer:
Tour operator execs are just as busy, taking on new roles within their
companies or pursuing opportunities at other companies. Here is a roundup of
some of the more recent executive shifts.
Earlier this year, Juan Tamarit, an alum of Travel Bound,
joined the Greece-focused Homeric Tours
as executive vice president of business development. Almost right away he went
to work establishing preferred partnership agreements with consortia and
"Homeric has been focused on the individual travel
agents and that was one of the key elements of having me come on board,"
Tamarit says. "Because of our prominence among agencies, this was a key
market of growth for us and at the same time, we are looking at additional
products and new destinations."
So far, Tamarit has secured preferred status with Vacation.com, TravelSavers and
Cruise Planners, as well as a few others. New destinations include western and
central Europe, southeast Asia,
and an expansion of Homeric's
product. In October, the tour operator also will offer real-time online booking
on its web site.
Plans for 2007
Late last month Travel
Bound promoted Nico Zenner from his post as vice president of sales and
marketing for the company to general manager. In fact, Zenner unofficially took
over the general management responsibilities of Travel Bound in January, when
Tamarit left for Homeric Tours. The company has attributed its strong growth
since then to Zenner.
"Sales have been picking up quite nicely for the first
half year. We've seen high double-digit growth—not more than 30 percent—but
it's been a very solid year for us and surprisingly, whatever happened in
performance of the dollar doesn't seem to have an impact on business,"
Under Zenner's leadership, Travel Bound, which only sells
its itineraries through travel agents, has a big year coming up. Towards the
end of 2007, the company will launch a booking tool on its web site featuring
all the products of Gullivers Travel Associates, Travel Bound's parent company.
In the future, Zenner says he would like to explore distributing Travel Bound's
product through global distribution systems. "Agents are OK to pick up the
phone and book through our web site," he says, "but a lot of bookings
are done on the GDSs and I'd like to explore that. We're not truly a packager,
so we're a little unique in the tour operator world, but the hotels that we
sell would be a good match for anything already on the GDS."
New Agent Contact at Disney Destinations
Meanwhile, over at Disney Destinations, Maryellen
Kline was announced as director of travel agency sales late last month. Kline,
a veteran of Disney Destinations, will lead the travel agency field and inside
sales teams that support Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney
Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. Kline's previous positions at Disney
include district sales manager and regional sales director for the eastern
region. Prior to joining Disney in 2003, she held sales positions with Costa
Cruise Lines, Premier Cruise Lines, Delta Vacations and USM Field Resources.
Kline said she expects to continue to work closely with agents in her new role.
"That's really what this position is all about: increasing
sales with our travel agency partners," she says. "I speak with a lot
of them on a daily basis."
As always, Disney has a lot going on this year and well into
2008, but the details could not be discussed at press time. Just last week, however,
Adventures By Disney released its new destinations for 2008, which include
For more, agents will need to keep their Mouse Ears perked up.
Changes at IsramWorld
Finally, IsramWorld late
last month announced the promotion of three vice presidents to the senior
level. Ilana Apelboim has been promoted to senior vice president, chief
operations officer worldwide; Betty Van Dyke to senior vice president of
research, development and special projects; and Eileen Lowe Hart to senior vice
president of marketing and product development. Hart will also head the tour
operator's newly launched luxury division.
Isram's new Elite Services offers such extravagances as
suite-only accommodations, private jets and bodyguards. The option to go
upscale can be applied to all itineraries within Isram's four divisions, which
include travel to places like
these new luxury products are available to travel agents.
The tour operator's new team will work closely with
IsramWorld President and CEO Ady Gelber on plans to expand the company,
including mergers and acquisitions, as well as in sales and marketing.