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Travel Agent’s Roundtable Discussion With MLT Vacations at MLT UniversitySeptember 28, 2015 By: Joe Pike
|Elizabeth E. Moriarty makes it official by announcing that next year’s MLT University conference and trade show will be hosted in Atlanta. // Photo by Joe Pike|
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – During our recently-concluded coverage of the MLT University trade show and conference this past weekend, Travel Agent sat down with members of MLT Vacations and learned that the company's successful show will have a new address in 2016.
John Caldwell, president of MLT Vacations, told Travel Agent that due to MLT’s rapid growth across all of its channels, the company has decided to move the popular MLT University show out of Minnesota for the first time in the show’s history.
“Because our growth has been strong, we have elected to host MLT University in Atlanta in 2016,” he says. “We will evaluate how it goes before we decide whether it stays in Atlanta.”
The event will also go from three days to two, says Caldwell. The official dates are September 17-18, 2016, and will be hosted at the Georgia International Convention Center. Caldwell says more than 700 agents flew in for this year’s conference.
If MLT Vacations decides to move the conference to some of Delta’s other core markets, you can expect Detroit to also be considered. Delta is also seeing double-digit growth out of New York and Los Angeles, so those destinations could also be possible hosts for the 2017 MLT University.
MLT Vacations has also enhanced its online education, now making it possible for agents to take MLT University classes on the web. In fact, Steven J. Diggelmann, MLT Vacations’ vice president of sales, says there are already 10,000 agencies signed up for the online classes, which just launched this year.
“We had a really good year from a revenue perspective,” says Caldwell. “We are 15 percent ahead this year. We’ve seen growth across all of our destinations and seeing double-digit growth outside of our traditional Mid-West markets.”
Cuba and Other Destination News
|Agents wait for the trade floor to open at this year's MLT University conference and trade show. More than 700 agents flew in for the event. // Photo by Joe Pike|
Elizabeth E. Moriarty, vice president of product development for MLT Vacations, says the company has recently added up to 300 new hotels in Europe and that the continent “continues to be in high demand.”
“Looking forward, we want to be adding more domestic hotels and we want to expand our footprint on both the East and West coasts,” she says.
Tina Iglio, senior vice president of marketing for MLT Vacations, told us people are beginning to do more weekend trips, such as trips to Napa Valley and Nashville. She also added that Charlotte is getting pretty “hot and trendy lately.”
We were also told that MLT Vacations is going to continue to expand in Mexico and the Caribbean. The company is looking to add some hotels in Mexico’s colonial cities and could soon be expanding product in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and Eleuthera, The Bahamas, while still keeping a close eye on Cuba, says Moriarty.
“We are doing a lot of research with respect to Cuba,” says Moriarty, “and I would say we recognize there is more demand than supply there right now.”
“It really depends on whether Delta wants to be there and they have said they are interested, so there may be an announcement soon,” says Caldwell.
Delta has also added capacity to Hawaii this year and is up 17 percent year-over-year in the destination. Specifically, Moriarty says capacity is up in both Honolulu, which saw a 12 percent increase in capacity year–over-year, and Maui, which saw a whopping 47 percent increase.
Luxury Hotels are Excelling
Iglio told Travel Agent that 70 percent of the company’s revenue this year has come from hotels that are four stars and higher.
“The East and West coasts really like their five-star, luxury hotels,” says Iglio.
Specifically, she told Travel Agent that some European upscale hotels, including The Savoy Hotel in London, the Conrad London St. James and the Majestic Hotel-Spa Paris are all seeing double-digit growth year-over-year.
“Experiential travel is part of that,” she says. “Today, it’s all about how can you create an experience that is tailor made for your clients. For example, going to wineries in Tuscany or walking tours versus bigger, coach tours. People want to have a unique experience in the destination.”
MLT also recently made some Global Distribution System (GDS) agreements with some very well known brands, including Marriott’s Autograph Collection, says Moriarty.
New Excursion Credits
Because MLT Vacations’ has beefed up its products in soft adventure destinations like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Costa Rica, it is now offering excursion credits to clients who want to do something exciting on vacation, but haven’t quite decided what or when they would like to do it.
“They may not know on a Tuesday that they want to go on a snorkeling trip on Thursday,” says Iglio. “Or perhaps maybe the weather is not so great on certain day. This gives them flexibility.”
Moriarty says the new program will be available at more than 20 hotels in the Caribbean and Latin America.