CANCUN, Mexico – As part of Travel Agent’s recent coverage of Travel Impressions’ “Best of the Best” awards, we sat in on a press conference hosted by Scott Wiseman, president of Travel Impressions, who told us Hawaii and Mexico are both hot destinations for group travel.
And that doesn’t just include destination weddings.
Wiseman says Travel Impressions is seeing a lot of group business to both Mexico and Hawaii and that it isn’t just romance focused, but also involves other celebratory vacations such as anniversaries, birthdays and bachelor/bachelorette parties. In fact, Wiseman told media that about 25 percent of Travel Impressions’ overall business for 2016 has been group travel, including weddings.
Also, Wiseman told media that Travel Impressions, for the first time, is in the process of rolling out group packages that don’t solely focus on weddings and honeymoons.
“We built out our tools for the travel agents to include more celebration travel in general, to give (clients) more reasons than just a wedding to get together for a vacation," he says. "We are giving them the ability to customize more non-wedding type of business.”
Wiseman says the threat of the Zika mosquito virus impacted group travel to Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean last year, when people were still learning about the rare virus that has been linked to birth defects.
“From an FIT standpoint, we didn’t’ really seeing many people avoiding (destinations that had cases of the virus), but we were seeing some impact on the group business and the wedding business,” says Wiseman. “But that was more so last year. Now, Mexico continues to see huge growth, perhaps more than the Caribbean at this point, and Hawaii is really catching on too.”
And since Hawaii is doing so well, Wiseman says Travel Impressions recently picked up additional flights to the Hawaiian Islands to increase the operator’s business there from the West Coast.
Wiseman told us that Travel Impressions now has daily flights to Hawaii Island, Oahu and Maui, as well as flights to Kauai on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All of the flights are on Alaska Airlines out of Oakland, CA.
Travel Impressions University
Also, during our coverage, the operator announced the launch of Travel Impressions University, the company’s new travel agent academy where graduating agents will receive significant advantages beyond the traditional certification of completion.
Agents will receive all the benefits of a traditional certification course, as well as a number of additional rewards, including the opportunity to earn bonus LoyalTI First points, sneak peeks at upcoming sales, first priority access to fam trips as well as graduate-exclusive fam opportunities and other benefits.
Travel Impressions is implementing a Destination Weddings Calendar, which will provide agents with real-time availability at top partners such as Karisma Hotels & Resorts, AMResorts, Palace Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Jewel Resorts and Couples Resorts, as well as several boutique properties, including St. Lucia’s Bay Gardens and Bougainvillea Beach Resort in Barbados.
The calendar is linked directly to the internal calendars of Travel Impressions’ supplier partners so that agents can claim dates instantaneously—simplifying one of the hardest parts of coordinating a destination wedding.
Not only can agents choose from complimentary or upgraded wedding ceremonies, honeymoons, photographers, flowers, menus, spa services and other optional enhancements, they can create bridal websites as an added service for their clients. Travel Impressions has populated the system with several design templates, so agents merely have to input the information or steer clients to a link where they can customize their nuptials' web portal.