A New Array of Agent Champions

Your clients aren't the only ones on the move this summer: Tour operator execs are just as busy, taking on new roles within their companies or pursuing opportunities at other companies. Here is a roundup of some of the more recent executive shifts.

Earlier this year, Juan Tamarit, an alum of Travel Bound, joined the Greece-focused Homeric Tours as executive vice president of business development. Almost right away he went to work establishing preferred partnership agreements with consortia and suppliers.

"Homeric has been focused on the individual travel agents and that was one of the key elements of having me come on board," Tamarit says. "Because of our prominence among agencies, this was a key market of growth for us and at the same time, we are looking at additional products and new destinations."

Maryellen Kline of Disney Destinations

So far, Tamarit has secured preferred status with Vacation.com, TravelSavers and Cruise Planners, as well as a few others. New destinations include western and central Europe, southeast Asia, Croatia and an expansion of Homeric's Italy product. In October, the tour operator also will offer real-time online booking on its web site.

Plans for 2007

Late last month Travel Bound promoted Nico Zenner from his post as vice president of sales and marketing for the company to general manager. In fact, Zenner unofficially took over the general management responsibilities of Travel Bound in January, when Tamarit left for Homeric Tours. The company has attributed its strong growth since then to Zenner.
Nico Zenner of Travel Bound

"Sales have been picking up quite nicely for the first half year. We've seen high double-digit growth—not more than 30 percent—but it's been a very solid year for us and surprisingly, whatever happened in Glasgow and the poor performance of the dollar doesn't seem to have an impact on business," Zenner says.

Under Zenner's leadership, Travel Bound, which only sells its itineraries through travel agents, has a big year coming up. Towards the end of 2007, the company will launch a booking tool on its web site featuring all the products of Gullivers Travel Associates, Travel Bound's parent company. In the future, Zenner says he would like to explore distributing Travel Bound's product through global distribution systems. "Agents are OK to pick up the phone and book through our web site," he says, "but a lot of bookings are done on the GDSs and I'd like to explore that. We're not truly a packager, so we're a little unique in the tour operator world, but the hotels that we sell would be a good match for anything already on the GDS."

New Agent Contact at Disney Destinations

Meanwhile, over at Disney Destinations, Maryellen Kline was announced as director of travel agency sales late last month. Kline, a veteran of Disney Destinations, will lead the travel agency field and inside sales teams that support Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. Kline's previous positions at Disney include district sales manager and regional sales director for the eastern region. Prior to joining Disney in 2003, she held sales positions with Costa Cruise Lines, Premier Cruise Lines, Delta Vacations and USM Field Resources. Kline said she expects to continue to work closely with agents in her new role.

"That's really what this position is all about: increasing sales with our travel agency partners," she says. "I speak with a lot of them on a daily basis."

Juan Tamarit of Homeric Tours

As always, Disney has a lot going on this year and well into 2008, but the details could not be discussed at press time. Just last week, however, Adventures By Disney released its new destinations for 2008, which include Australia, China, Germany, Peru and the CzechRepublic. For more, agents will need to keep their Mouse Ears perked up.

Changes at IsramWorld

Finally, IsramWorld late last month announced the promotion of three vice presidents to the senior level. Ilana Apelboim has been promoted to senior vice president, chief operations officer worldwide; Betty Van Dyke to senior vice president of research, development and special projects; and Eileen Lowe Hart to senior vice president of marketing and product development. Hart will also head the tour operator's newly launched luxury division.

Isram's new Elite Services offers such extravagances as suite-only accommodations, private jets and bodyguards. The option to go upscale can be applied to all itineraries within Isram's four divisions, which include travel to places like Israel, Egypt, China, Spain and Latin America. A single brochure featuring these new luxury products are available to travel agents.

The tour operator's new team will work closely with IsramWorld President and CEO Ady Gelber on plans to expand the company, including mergers and acquisitions, as well as in sales and marketing.