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News From Vacation.com's 8th International Conference & Trade Show

June 21, 2006 By: Mike Jaccarino Travel Agent


LAS VEGAS–In a Travel Agent exclusive, African Travel told the magazine that the company intends to offer add-on nights on its 20 or so South African products for the same prices the company had in 1976. That means clients can get an add-on night at a five-star South African hotel, sightseeing tours, transfers and dinner for $29. The deal, according to the company's National Sales and Marketing Manager Karin Jones, is intended to celebrate African Travel's 30th anniversary. The company was founded in 1976. Other special anniversary deals, previously announced, include a $30 children's rate on the 12-night Kenya Explorer program, (good through 2006) and 30 percent off the 12-day, 9-night Great Migration Gold Tanzania Tour, (also good through 2006). Jones informed Travel Agent magazine of the offer during an invitation-only reception for preferred suppliers of Vacation.com during Vacation.com's annual convention at Caesars Palace. In other news: Sceptre Tours, a wholesale operator specializing in independent vacation packages to Ireland, has added a Scotland product line, according to company officials. The six-night Scotland Tartan Package starts at $349 per person, based on double occupancy, for travel Nov. 1 to March 31, 2007. Airfare is not included. The announcement came during a press dinner Sceptre held in conjunction with Scottish tourism officials at a Caesars Palace restaurant. If you can't come to them, they'll come to you. Vacation.com is instituting a new program where sales experts from the travel consortium's Alexandria, Virginia headquarters will travel to a member agency's location for on-site staff training. Previously, member agents had to travel to Vacation.com's Learning Center in Alexandria to receive such continuing education: The cost of Vacation.com Personal Training sessions will vary depending on distance of travel land structure and content of training, according to the official release. For a quote or more information, contact [email protected]. Vacation.com is making it difficult for member agencies not to encourage their clients to book with an American Express card. American Express and Vacation.com announced earlier this year that American Express was the new official card of Vacation.com. But the pair waited until Vacation.com's annual convention to unveil the first programs. Some of the highlights include cash reward programs with Alamo Rent A Car, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Blue Star Jets and Travel Impressions. For more information on the specific rewards programs, visit Agent Net, Vacation.com's members only portal. Vacation.com officials are predicating softness in the Caribbean market this fall. Marketing Vice President Stephen McGillivray forecasted excess inventory and attractive prices on the horizon. McGillivray made the prediction during the Tuesday morning general session of Vacation.com members. The marketing maven was asking the agents for permission to directly market "distressed inventory" to their clients come this fall. But where McGillivray sees softness in the Caribbean, he said Vacation.com is seeing business in Europe, both Eastern and Western, that is "off the charts." Some other 2006 hot spots he referenced were Croatia, Alaska and the cruise products for the Mediterranean. "We're seeing a stunning performance in the Med," McGillivray told journalists during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "Who thought the masses would sail the Med? That was always an upper crust (product)." Reception for Vacation.com's Vacation Vignettes series seems strong among member agents. Among the agents queried on the new program by Travel Agent was Ellen Karpman of Research Travel in Rockville Maryland, who gave this glowing review: "(The Vacation Vignettes) makes it so you stand out a bit from the crowd. Everyone sells the same products and why should they buy from me? Now (with Vacation Vignettes) I'm going to have a little bit more for no extra money. That's why you join something like (Vacation.com). The more things they do like this, the better it will be." Bob Kramer of Funtastic Travel in Florida paid equally vociferous homage to the program, saying, "It gives me the ability to compete with on-line travel suppliers. It gives us something they can't do." Vacation Vignettes is a program that adds a host of unique touches to the ordinary cruise products, like onboard concierge service, parting gifts, and unique events not available to other customers.


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