|Pictured: Elizabeth Moriarty, vice president of product development; Tina Iglio, senior vice president of marketing; John Caldwell, president, MLT Vacations; and Terry Williams, vice president of sales.|
Over the weekend Travel Agent was on location in Minneapolis attending MLT Vacation's MLTUniversity. As part of our coverage, we sat down with the company's executives to get the scoop on how Mexico is performing for the tour operator. True to trends as of late, Mexico continues to outperform both itself from past years and other destinations.
"Mexico is our largest country as far as revenue goes," says John Caldwell, president of MLT Vacations. "Delta has been expanding to all of Latin America, significantly over the last two years. There are deals that we have been inking with Delta and Aeromexico to increase routes and destinations." Delta has a lot of air service going from Los Angeles and Seattle to the West Coast. Service to Cancun continues to be popular and will continue to grow, but it is really travel to the West Coast of Mexico that is showing notable growth, as it has lagged behind Cancun in terms of popularity. "There has always been solid strength to Cancun and Riviera Maya, but the western side of Mexico and even Mexico City is now being heavily promoted as non-traditional destinations," says Caldwell.
"There has been an increase in capacity to Puerto Vallarta, says Tina Iglio, senior vice president of marketing for MLT. "The seasonal Delta flights will continue into March. Puerto Vallarta has seen a 24 percent increase in air capacity in total. Los Cabos has seen a 58 percent increase."
There has also been a lot of growth with hotel partners. Los Cabos has added many new properties this year. MLT, Delta and Aeromexico vacations are also looking at adding a new range of accommodations to their packages. In addition to the ever-popular all-inclusives, the company wants to include haciendas and casitas to give travelers a whole range of variety in terms of travel to Mexico. Excursions include traditional snorkeling and other beach activities, to more local experiences such as meeting with local families, traveling to markets and learning about the culture.
Travel Agent conducted a roundtable back in May at Tianguis Turistico, where several tour operators expressed a noticeable decline in travel to Hawaii, as Mexico stole the spotlight. Airfare to Hawaii has jumped significantly, thus pulling travelers to Mexico for beach getaways instead. But MLT Vacations has not felt the same shift.
"People choose to go to both. There is no decline in Hawaii numbers because of that," says Iglio.
"Hawaii is a different experience," Caldwell adds. "People who go to Mexico are going for all-inclusive travel. Hawaii is completely different. We don't see people choosing one versus the other."