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The Year of MLT VacationsJanuary 31, 2011 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
|MLT Vacations’ Ken Pomerantz and Larry Chestler agree that travel agents are the core distribution channels for its products.|
2011 will see MLT’s new partnerships and upgrades bear fruit.
Among tour operators, the year 2010 belonged to MLT Vacations, one of the largest providers of vacation packages in the U.S. The company’s highlights include the 17th annual MLT University in September, which attracted roughly 2,000 agents; finalizing a historic partnership with United Vacations; and also inked a unique agreement with the Globus family of products, allowing the operator to get its feet wet in South America offerings.
Nearly 2,000 agents traveled from across the U.S. and Canada to attend MLT University in St. Paul, MN, in September. What drew them were more than 40 destination classes and a trade show with more than 200 travel partners from destinations worldwide, including Australia, South Africa and Asia.
“We are very proud of the hard work we’ve done to MLT U such a premier event,” says Larry Chestler, president and chief operating officer, MLT Vacations. “We rely heavily on our relationship with agents; it’s a longstanding relationship that means the world to us, so it’s great to have an event that provides them with the knowledge, background and support they need to be successful.”
“I really have a tremendous sense of pride about how far we have come,” says Elizabeth E. Moriarty, vice president, product development, MLT Vacations, who has more than 30 years of travel industry experience with companies such as National Rent A Car and Business Incentives. “And it’s great to see the number of agents we get at MLT U. We tell them what is new, what is happening. We spend time with our agents, we have agents spend time with our partners. Because of all that, many agents say the event has become the best of its kind in the industry.”
MLT University will be back again at the St. Paul River Centre from October 2-4 this year.
It was during this event that MLT announced a series of launches and partnerships for the coming year, not least of which is a partnership with the Globus family of brands that allows agents to sell to their clients the best in escorted and independent tours and river and small-ship cruises in Africa, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Middle East. Among other University highlights, more than 100 hotel partners were named winners of the 2010 MLT Vacations Quality Assurance Award in recognition of their outstanding quality and service, and the company announced its new Affiliate Program.
The Affiliate Program aims to serve as a valuable marketing tool by transforming an existing agent website to a one-stop travel shop by allowing the travel agent to place links or banners, customized with their agency contact information, on their website to Delta Vacations or Continental Airlines Vacations. When customers book their vacation, the booking is transferred to their agencies so they can track them and earn commission. Agents will have the opportunity to expand their businesses and earn commission by driving traffic to their websites and reaching more potential clients. Customers can access the booking engine directly from an e-mail when agents promote specials. It can also be used to refer customers to vacation planning tools, which are a tremendous resource on destinations.
“Our approach to distribution has not changed in the entire almost 11 years I’ve spent with this company,” says Ken Pomerantz, president and chief marketing officer, MLT Vacations. “Travel agents are the core distribution channel just as they were when we did charters, as they are right now, as they were with Continental and Delta and as they will continue to be with United and all other future partnerships.”
To enroll in this program, travel professionals need their agency administrator to sign up under the “Profile Center” in the “Resource Center” tab on www.WorldAgentDirect.com.
More Options for Agents
Another big development for MLT was closing the deal with United Vacations so that, since January 1, United Vacations products are available exclusively through MLT’s travel agent booking tool, WorldAgent Direct.
MLT launched the partnership with a sale on all destinations through the United Vacations brand and also new travel agent booking incentives such as 15 percent commission on the entire land portion of all Hawaii vacation packages and 20 percent commission on the land portion of vacations to Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.
With United Vacations, travel professionals will have access to the lowest airfares on United Airlines, including United First and United Business when your clients purchase a flight and hotel vacation; generous commissions on all airfares and land components with no caps; and incentives where you can earn cash and free travel, training and tools to help you boost your sales.
With its new Price Guarantee program, MLT is offering the lowest available airfares through its scheduled airline brands, Delta Vacations and Continental Airlines Vacations.
Under the program, agents who find a lower price on an air and hotel vacation package within 24 hours of booking it receive a price adjustment and the lead traveler on the booking will earn $50 toward a future vacation.
In addition, the program is streamlined for a faster response to travel agents and a well-defined guarantee policy. To submit a request, agents simply fill out a Price Guarantee form at www.wordagentdirect.com and a representative from MLT Vacations will respond within three business hours, or agents can call 800-727-1111.
In early November, MLT expanded its Flexible Getaways program to include all destinations available through its Delta Vacations and Continental Airlines Vacations brands.
This program is ideal for groups of 10 or more who want to vacation together at the same resort, yet need flexibility with their travel dates, flights, or length of stay, or who may even be traveling from different cities. It allows people with different travel needs to get together for a vacation such as family and class reunions and girlfriend getaways.
“Our message has always been that we don’t care what brands you sell as long as it is what is best for your customer,” says Terry Morrison, vice president of sales, MLT Vacations. “We just want to make it as easy on agents as we can.”
MLT Vacations recommends a select group of resorts, which provide Flexible Getaways travelers with in-destination group services, including group check-in, group room assignments, pre-confirmed dinner reservations, and other standard group amenities, which may vary by property. These additions to the program, offered in conjunction with Flexible Getaways offer to any destination, will see participants save up to $200 per booking on their flight and hotel vacation. The group coordinator will receive a $25-per-booking rebate for vacations in the continental U.S. and Canada, and a $50-per-booking rebate for all other destinations. Rebates can be earned up to the total price of their vacation.
Toward the end of 2010, MLT unveiled 13 new destinations in the U.S. and abroad through Delta Vacations and Continental Airlines Vacations.
Charleston, WV; El Paso, TX; Green Bay, WI; and Norfolk, VA, were added under Delta Vacations and Continental Airlines Vacations. In addition, Delta Vacations will sell the new destinations of Cody, WY; Casper, WY; Kalispell, MT; Missoula, MT; Traverse City, MI; Daytona Beach, FL; and Melbourne, FL. Internationally, Delta Vacations has added Seoul, South Korea, while Continental Airlines Vacations will expand to the islands of Turks and Caicos.
These new packages include a variety of hotels, rental cars and activities for travelers. Plus, the purchase of an air and hotel vacation from Delta Vacations or Continental Airlines Vacations will provide travelers with the lowest airfare; easy one-stop shopping for air, hotel and car rentals; the option to secure their vacation with a deposit and pay the rest later; and bonus miles, in addition to flight miles credits through their respective SkyMiles and OnePass frequent flyer programs.
“We know we have a fabulous opportunity with two of the largest airlines,” Chestler says. “We know there is a lot of growth to be had and we have ambitious revenue plans for 2011.”
|Along with popular destinations such as Las Vegas (above) and Hawaii (below), MLT Vacations added more than a dozen new ones last year, including Seoul, South Korea (bottom).|