Classic Vacations Honors Their Best

Classic Vacations did well by its top producers earlier this month when it hosted its 13th annual "Marketing Partners Weekend." The event, held at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, provided 125 agents with four straight days of celebratory socializing and networking at a variety of venues in Ka'anapali Beach. Ron Letterman

During the one educational event hosted during the weekend, Ron Letterman, chairman and acting president of Classic and a long-time champion of the travel agent community, reminded his top producers of his credo, that agents "can either be the best, or be the cheapest."

Meanwhile, Greg Bernd, vice president of sales, noted that Classic in 2007 is putting a greater emphasis on its ultra-luxury products, such as villas, yachts and private jets, which it has long offered, "but we have not done a good job of calling it out," he said. The FIT tour company, which works with 19 air carriers and 800 hotels worldwide, also offers private accommodations from "condos to castles," Bernd noted. 

Classic told agents that its most rapidly growing product is Europe, which this year grew in business by triple digits in some regions. New destinations being added include Russia and Croatia. Additionally, Classic has signed exclusive tour operator agreements with such legendary hotels as the Ritz Paris and the San Pietro di Positano in Italy.

In Mexico and the Caribbean, Classic is adding access to more suites and concierge-level rooms than ever before due to client demand, said Bernd. An Australia/New Zealand program will be added in 2007, and brochures will be available in January, he added. Letterman later told Travel Agent that Classic, aside from its Destination programs, is looking add to its offerings by selling "stand-alone luxury experiences" in destinations such as the Maldives, Bali and Dubai. The company intends to continue going global at a careful pace, Bernd added.

The long weekend culminated in an awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency, which went all out to transform its ballroom into a very believable rainforest. The top "President's Club" award went to Valerie Wilson Travel for the most sales through Classic, while the Travel Store, Tzell Travel and Altour took home honors for being in the "$5 Million Club."

Peter Carideo, president of CRC Travel in Chicago, was singled out for "the highest dollar sales increase over last year for a single location."

"Classic makes me look like a star in my clients' eyes," said Carideo. "Clients truly appreciate knowing what they are spending pre-departure," he told Travel Agent.

Theresa Bartsch of Travelong in Summit, NJ, said this Classic Marketing Partners Meeting "was perhaps their best event yet. One of the main reasons I go to this event is the interaction with some of the best agencies in the country; it's great networking." Bartsch added, "Another key reason I book Classic is because of our sales rep, Lil Musmanno. She is very visible and responsive."

Connie Risse of Ships and Trips Travel in Sacramento attended the Classic event for the first time.

"It was a wonderful incentive," she said. "I am always surprised at the effort Classic goes through for every event to thank each and every person—it's the same effort they spend on our client's vacations. We sell Classic mainly to honeymooners, so we need everything to be perfect," she added.

To those who did not meet the necessary sales to attend the weekend event, it's time to get busy. Next year's Marketing Partners Weekend will be held at The Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu.

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