On Site: Vacation.com Coming on Strong in Luxury Market



Steve Tracas, president and CEO of Vaction.com, Tiffany Glass vice president of technology and member services, and Steve McGillivray, vice president of marketing and public relations

Vacation.com aims to have a luxury travel agency product ready some time this year to offer to its membership, Steve Tracas, president and CEO of the consortium told media this morning.

Tracas was speaking at a press conference hosted at Vacation.com's 12th International Conference & Trade Show. This year's confab is being held at the World Center Orlando Marriott Resort & Convention Center. It's estimated that 1,200 travel professionals are in attendance.

Vacation.com, with a total membership of 5,000 agencies, is already a major player in the luxury arena. It has, to date, not broken that segment out.

However, John Lovell, vice president of sales and industry relations, estimates that Vacation.com members generate an annual revenue of $300 million for its preferred luxury suppliers. Tracas confirmed that within Vacation.com's infrastructure training programs will be a set up for luxury members. It will also recruit new members from existing consortium in the industry.

Cruise Brothers, a large luxury travel agency recently joined Vacation.com, as did Smithsonian Journeys, Tracas said.

Luxury suppliers within the Vacation.com fold currently include Crystal and Silversea cruise lines as well as Marriott International, whose portfolio includes Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts , whose portfolio includes St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W

Other news announced at the conference includes the fact that Vacation.com is having a strong year in new membership recruitment. To date, it has added 165 new U.S. Members and 95 new Canadian members. Tracas says that the group as a whole typically adds 350 new members a year, so it's  pacing well ahead of its average. Vacation.com last month launched a recruitment incentive to its members, which rewards them with $100 to $200 for initiating a conversation with a new agency. That member is further rewarded after the new member has been in the fold for a year, Karen Viera, vice president of sales for Vacation.com, said.

While Vacation.com is currently seeing a mix of new agency types, including those who are brand new to the industry, Tracas said the group's goal overall is to bring more "professional, large, high producing agencies" into the fold.

The consortium is also careful to watch the revenue numbers of its existing members. If those numbers start to slip, Vacation.com will notify that number to see what is going on. If that member says it's merged with another agency, Vacation.com will call on that agency to see if they would like to become a member.

The current threshold for Vacation.com members to retain their membership with the organization is $100,000 in annual revenue with preferred suppliers or $1 million in Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) sales.

Vacation.com also announced details for its 2011 annual conference, which will take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The event will run from June 19-23, 2011.

For early bird registration to the 2011 conference, visit www.JoinVacation.com.

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