Over the weekend Travel Agent got a chance to attend MLT University. MLTUniversity is an annual training program hosted by tour operator MLT Vacations. This year's event is held in Minneapolis, MN, and it is designed to update and educate travel agents on how to best sell MLT Vacations products, and informs them on what is newly available for them to sell to clients.
Here's a roundup of our top tips and gleanings from the event, including the latest on Costa Rica, Europe, LGBT travel and finding your niche.
Finding Your Niche
Niche travel is an excellent way to boost your profits, because consumers want to buy from a professional who is passionate and knowledgeable about a certain area. Travel Agent is on location at MLTUniversity where we have learned some key tips into finding a niche and boosting your sales.
MLT Vacations’ agent portal, World Agent Direct, outlines a series of specialty vacations, including luxury, romance, Disney, groups, ski, escorted tours, diving and LGBT. But the tour operator has also highlighted a series of growing trends in the niche industry. The growing niches include multi-generational travel, soft adventure, wellness, culinary travel and TV and movie-inspired travel.
As a travel agent finding your niche depends on your own interests, because selling what you love is a natural skill.
Selling LGBT Travel
Although this is MLTU’s first year doing an educational seminar on LGBT travel, the market has been around for 30 years and has been trending heavily since. Recent changes in marriage equality and wider acceptance of LGBTs worldwide results in more opportunity for travel professional sales.
The LGBT community is a goldmine for the travel professional. Here’s why: Gay and lesbians usually have a large amount of disposable income. Five to 10 percent of the travel industry is made of up LGBT travelers. They represent a slice of the entire world, encompassing every race, culture interest and profession.
If you’re new to selling diving vacations, or are looking to get into the market, here are some options that MLT Vacations offers its travelers looking to dive some of the world’s best locations.
Good to know: It’s difficult to pin down the exact demographic of a dive customer, but typically most are affluent because it is not a budget-minded sport. You also have to be at least 12 years old in order to be certified. Most people get PADI certified, which is the most recognized certification internationally. To get this certification, prospective divers must complete course work, pool work and then open water tests. It is recommended that travelers do the course work and pool work in their hometown, because who wants to sit in front of a computer screen or in a pool on vacation when the ocean is beckoning?
Selling Costa Rica’s Wild Side
Costa Rica is a Mecca for eco-tourists and soft adventurers alike. While on location at this year’s MLTUniversity in Minneapolis, MN, Travel Agent sat in on a seminar all about selling Costa Rica’s wild side.
Costa Rica is a Central American destination bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The country’s diverse landscape makes it a hub for a diverse amount of travel experiences. Twenty-five percent of the land is protected as National Parks, and for a country that is about the same size as West Virginia, that is a considerable amount of space. There are 52 species of hummingbirds, and 10 percent of the world’s butterflies live there.
The country’s Guanacaste region is in the northwest corner of the country and touches the Pacific Ocean. This is the country’s resort area, and is most likely where first time clients are going to want to go. It is a center for soft adventure, including everything from zip lining and kayaking to eco-tourism and wellness. Costa Rica is also home to six active volcanoes, as well as 61 dormant ones. There are also rain forests and natural hot springs.
Selling Skiing in Europe
As much as we hate to see summer go, ski season is fast approaching and with that comes a slew of exciting new announcements. Travel Agent is on location this week at MLTUniversity in Minneapolis. Here’s the latest that sister company Delta Vacations has to offer in the ski sector.
This year MLT reports that it is really seeing the demand for winter vacations in Europe growing. Europe is a wonderful winter destination for skiers because it is so easy to add a pre- or post-ski vacation onto any itinerary. Travelers can tack on Milan, Paris, Venice and many other cities making winter a great winter getaway for those who do more than just ski.
Selling Budapest and Prague
Central Europe, once a cut-off half continent because of Communist rule, has blossomed in the last 25 years as one of the hottest spots for tourism. Among the destinations in Central Europe, Prague and Budapest continue to dominate the landscape as top travel destinations.
The Czech Republic is home to 10 million people, one million of which live in Prague. Hungary also has 10 million people and two million of those live in Budapest.
Why visit these destinations? Among the top reasons are history, the progressive mindset, architecture and the cultural experience. Good to know: These are not destinations for first-timers to Europe. They are best suited for seasoned and independent travelers.
Selling Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a region of contrasts in terms of beauty, art, architecture, fashion and culture. Travel Agent is on location in Minneapolis attending MLTUniversity. Here’s a look at what MLT Vacations can offer your clients headed to Venice, Florence, Pisa and Milan.
Venice, the land of canals and more than 400 bridges, is like staying in one giant outdoor museum. It is home to museums, cathedrals and world renowned art. Some of the top landmarks are the Campanile di San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs. With MLT Vacations, travelers can book a variety of optional tours, from private gondola rides to tours of Murano, Burano and Torcello.