Spirits Up at Classic Vacations' Marketing Partners 2009

NASSAU, The Bahamas- Classic Vacations treated its top producers to a fun-filled weekend at The Cove Atlantis. Its Marketing Partners 2009 event brought together about 100 travel agency owners and consortia to the Bahamas to not only show them a good time but update them on the progress of the organization during these uncertain times.

One ray of hope, Greg Bernd, co-president of Classic Vacations, said its Mexico business has exploded in the last 90 days. In fact, it was up 50 percent in October over the same time last year. Yes, the number does look a better than it actually is, David Hu, Classic Vacations’ other co-president said, being that last October was a horrible month, not only for Classic, but for everyone. Still, it’s a sign that business is improving.

For Classic, the future is about rebranding, unveiling a new website and reservation platform in the coming months. It already has put out new collateral in the marketplace (watch for Australia and New Zealand in January). It will also have tiered pricing in effect for 2010. “We are still perceived as being the best,” Bernd said.”Yes, people say we are more expensive, but it’s better product.”

Currently, Classic says its strength is in the Caribbean, where it is seeing double-fold growth. However, its booking window has shrunk. Bernd said that around half of all reservations are made 60 days to departure. (It’s rampant. John Conway, senior vice president of The Cove Atlantis, told Travel Agent that only last week he got a Valerie Wilson booking for a group of 50 for January 9. He added that it will be the high-end agents who will save us over the next year or so.) Classic is making it a point to keep talking with hoteliers and putting specials and value-added deals out into the market. “Personal relationships are more important now than ever before,” said Classic’s Hu.

The real excitement was Saturday night, when Classic held its awards ceremony. The event played out like the Oscars, replete with a red carpet. Here’s a rundown of the winners.

Highest Percentage Sales Increase-Single Location: Gateway Travel

Highest Dollar Sales Increase-Single Location: Great Gateways Travel

Highest Gross Sales-Single Location: Travelwizard.com

Highest Percentage Sales Increase-Multiple Locations: San Diego Travel Group

Highest Dollar Sales Increase-Multiple Locations: Worldview Travel

Highest Gross Sales for Travel Agency Multiple Locations: Tzell Travel

Highest Percentage Sales Increase-Consortia/Franchise: Signature

Highest Dollar Sales Increase-Consortia/Franchise: Virtuoso

Highest Gross Sales-Consortia/Franchise: Virtuoso

Classic Vacations’ $5 Million Club: Altour, Tzell Travel, AMEX Platinum

Presidents Award (Excellence Through Calendar Year): Protravel Intl.

Last, the announcement was made of where next year’s Classic Vacations event would be. Answer: St. Regis Princeville.

For more on the St. Regis Princeville, click here