New Certified Vacations' COO Previews New Products

With new COO Nick Davison at the helm, Certified Vacations Group, the umbrella company encompassing Continental Airlines Vacations, Delta Vacations and Future Vacations, is headed in a new direction. In addition to recent brand announcements that include products in Dubai and South Africa, Davison has plans to expand the company's product line in ways that include cruising, rail and luxury offerings.

Continental, Delta and Future Vacations will remain the core brands of Certified. These product expansions will be completed by cultivating various partnerships, says Davison, who joined Certified as CFO in 2004 and still holds the title. These partners could not be named at press time, as deals were awaiting signatures. "We expect to be specific about that in the next five to seven days," Davison said last Wednesday.

New Cruise Products

Even so, last Monday the company went online with its new cruise products offered through Future Vacations. Deals appear from most major cruise lines, including Cunard, Disney Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

"It's a big undertaking," Davison says of the cruising addition. "This company has about 50 to 60 cruise lines that they deal with and we have agreed to jointly offer packages. It was a quick and efficient way to get into the market."

Packaging Luxury

What's more, Certified is looking for ways to tie the new cruise offerings into the company's luxury collection.

"I'm trying to create the whole package so that discerning travelers will say, 'I'm not just taking a vacation, I'm doing something different,'" Davison says, adding that options may include taking a river barge down the Seine and staying at a European chateau. "We know we have this hotel in this city where these cruise lines are and that Delta or Continental flies there," he continues.

"Our regional sales managers are coming to us and saying that these will work beautifully, so we know demand is high." Davison expects finalized plans in the next three to five weeks, as well as a name for the new luxury division.

In addition to all this, Certified also is in talks with operators in the United States and Europe to provide rail-based vacations. This is a far cry from a year ago, when the company made a failed attempt at a sale. "We realized that this company has a lot of potential and that it was not the best option to do what we did," Davison says. "Now, we're getting it back on track."

This renewed commitment has revived enthusiasm. "I've met with agents and suppliers one-on-one to give them comfort and ensure them that the guarantee is there. With that perspective, they've come back to us and said that they're committed, too."