The 2016 Outlook From Vacation.com

Travel Agent recently attended Vacation.com’s 2016 news briefing in New York City. We’ve rounded up the 2016 outlook, new technology to know and information about this year’s international conference.

John Lovell
John Lovell, president Vacation.com

2016 Outlook

According to the findings released by Vacation.com, members are seeing increased year-over-year bookings and are feeling confident about their businesses in the coming year. And a total of 54.9 percent of Vacation.com members are seeing year-over-year increases in cruise bookings.

“It appears as if cruises are staying closer to home for a variety of reasons, but the Caribbean (east and west) and Alaska, really those are the top three, explains John Lovell, president of Vacation.com. “You kind of look at what the cruise lines are doing in terms of deployment as well, a lot of that is driven by deployment.”

In a recent survey conducted across a cross-section of Vacation.com’s membership, 84.7 percent said their 2016 bookings are on par or greater than the same time last year (up from 82 percent of members last year, talking about 2015 bookings).

As for the top international destinations, travelers are staying closer to the U.S. The top destinations clients are booking in 2016 include Caribbean cruises, Cancun, Mexico, European river cruises, Mediterranean cruises and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The top domestic destinations are Alaska cruises, Orlando, FL, Maui, HI, Honolulu, HI and Las Vegas, NV.

“Cruising in Alaska is a very vey hot product, and we’ve seen that transition and really that buying pattern over the past 18 months,” says Lovell.

Tools to Know

We all have been hearing about Agent Snapshot, the personalized online profiles for agents, since its launch last year. To date, there are 1,920 published profiles and 8,600 client reviews. Also, the profiles have helped to generate 10,000 new client leads. What’s Next? We hear that the next step will be to allow agents to list several travel specialties on their profiles.   

However, the new tool to hit members in 2016 is AgentMate. This all-encompassing CRM system will be rolled out to members in 2016. The technology was originally developed as a proprietary technology for Cruise Holidays agencies. However, it has evolved and now includes:

  • Support for packaging and bundling on invoices
  • Automatically importing bookings made via CruisePRO
  • Automating and personalizing client communications for bookings as well as client events like birthdays and reminders about passport renewals
  • Content management for websites
  • Numerous enhancements to record any type of trip and its components, including air, car, hotel and wholesale package

As for how this new program will function, AgentMate will be supported by a specialized staff, so it will have all the features and abilities that traditionally go into running a technology company, explains Jose Ferreira, chief technology officer for Vacation.com.

The target market for this program will be primarily non-GDS agencies, meaning about 2,100 agencies, explains Lovell.

Travel Agent also heard that AgentMate will be a large topic at this year’s international conference.

Vacation.com’s 18th International Conference

This year’s conference and trade show will take place May 22-26, 2016, at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida. The 2016 theme will be “Connect More,” which will include a new 90-minute forum, “Supplier Partner Connections.” As for keynote speakers, Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures CEO will speak.

More than 750 agents have already registered. For more information and to register, visit http://conference.joinvacation.com/register/.