Onsite: Funjet Rewards Agents for Selling Vegas

LAS VEGAS--On Tuesday night, the excitement mounted at the Fashion Show Mall as the presentation of prizes to Funjet Vacation's top-producing sellers of Las Vegas took place. Forty-two travel agents came to Vegas for the event, which had a number of big-ticket prizes, including a new GMC Acacia sports utility vehicle.

Travel Agent mingled with the crowd, eliciting some insider observations. "Rather than going into new destinations, we're looking to expand out marketing efforts," said Dave Coughlin, director of partner and destination marketing for Funjet Vacations. Coughlin ranked Funjet's destinations in popularity, with Cancun coming in first, followed by Las Vegas and a virtual tie between Puerto Vallarta and Jamaica.

Responding to a comment about all of the construction going on in Vegas, John M. Meyer, leisure sales executive for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, joked, "Our national bird is the crane." Meyer noted that Las Vegas will see the addition of 40,000 hotel rooms by the end of the decade, bringing the total number of rooms up to 175,000. "We'll be focusing on the baby boomer market," he said. "Although everyone who comes to Vegas has a little of the gaming drive, they're increasingly coming for luxury properties, spas, entertainment and shopping." Meyer notes that this visitor profile matches up with the Funjet approach to travel as an experience rather than a commodity.

Ray Snisky, president of Funjet Vacations, announced the operator's five top-producing agents for June through October, and a selected supplier for each month participated in their rewards. Kathy Duerr from All Inclusive Vacations in Milwaukee won a Philips 42-inch plasma TV from MGM Mirage Resorts; Jodi Moretti of Carlson Wagonlit/Discovery World Travel in Manitowoc, WI, received golf clubs and a round of golf for two plus a one-night stay at Wynn Las Vegas; Nancy Pearson of Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Prior Lake, MN, won a Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino; Art Nittskoff of Gamble America in Cleveland received a $2,000 Macy's gift card from Harrah's Entertainment; and Ginger Wachniak of Travel Visions in Milwaukee won four one-week, luxury or convertible car rentals from of Alamo.

Next, each of the 42 agents in attendance opened up the small gift-wrapped boxes they'd received. Five of these agents found keys emblazoned with the Alamo logo, and they each tried their key in the ignition of the GMC Acacia. The tension mounted as the first three keys failed to start the car. Then Colleen Itzin (pictured, with Snisky) of Carlson Wagonlit in Beaver Dam, WI, got behind the wheel, and the car started. It was an emotional moment, considering Itzin and her fiance, Dana Hecker, almost didn't make it to the event. After the dual insistence of her fiance's grandmother and Itzin's 7-year old daughter, they committed to making the trip. "When I saw the car appear with a red bow on it, I turned to Colleen and said, 'This is too much of a coincidence,'" said Hecker. "I said this has to be a sign. Last Christmas I bought a used car for Colleen and gave it to her with a big red bow on it."

Standing by the side of the car, with confetti streaming down, Itzin said, "Vegas is one of the easiest destinations to sell. Everyone enjoys coming here." (MR)

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