What is your key strategy for this year and why?
Delta Vacations has always been committed to providing a seamless experience for travel agents and customers to create customized vacation packages.This year, our strategic direction includes an elevated emphasis on the customer experience. For example, our Customer Engagement Center now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because service excellence is the cornerstone of our company, we will continue to identify new ways to exceed our customers’ expectations.
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace, and why they decided to launch them now?
In December 2016, Delta Vacations launched hotel and flight packages for Havana, Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba. We did this in coordination with Delta Air Lines’ new daily service to Havana. Since then, we’ve expanded to include escorted tour packages in Cuba for travelers to satisfy the People-to-People visa requirements. Cuba is a bucket-list destination for many U.S. travelers, and we wanted to offer our customers the opportunity to experience the Cuban way of life with Delta Vacations.
We also rolled out new experiences for our customers looking to celebrate their romantic getaways such as weddings or honeymoons with Delta Vacations. This includes partnering with more properties in destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii and Europe, providing complimentary honeymoon amenities and offering other exclusive incentives as part of the booking.
Can you take us behind the scenes? How do you determine which new destinations to go into next?
Because Delta Vacations offers packages in more than 280 destinations worldwide, we take into account a number of factors before we add a new destination to our portfolio. We collaborate with Delta Air Lines to determine how we can serve our leisure traveler in new destinations in the most seamless way possible. Additionally, we ensure that there’s a well-functioning tourism infrastructure already in place within the destination to support tourists such as a wide selection of hotel accommodations, activities, places of interests, etc. We also look to partner with local companies such as the destination tourism board and CVB to ensure that we are creating and promoting a good experience for our customers, as well as garnering awareness of our presence in the market.
When go into a new place, what do you do to create a product that’s ready for today’s consumer?
Delta Vacations determines hotels and local operators with the customer in mind. We review factors such as demand, hotel quality, diversity of hotel experiences, and amenities, among other factors, to assess whether a partnership would be a good fit for the Delta customer. We also vet local operators through a rigorous RFP process to ensure the highest level of service is provided to our customers.
Are there any key challenges this year for your business?
2016 was a record year for Delta Vacations, and demand for 2017 continues to be very strong as we are seeing double-digit increases in bookings this year. We recognize that the challenge is on us to remain an industry leader when it comes to our products, our partnerships and our service.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
We continue to see strong demand in 2017 for domestic and international travel. Europe is trending to be robust among our customers who are taking advantage of the strong U.S. dollar to travel there. We’re also experiencing strong demand for Mexico, Caribbean and Hawaii. And, with Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico’s partnership, Delta Vacations will be able to offer more flights to more destinations in Mexico.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2017?
Travel agents are an essential part of our business, and we continue to strengthen our relationships by offering them tools, education and support to help them grow their sales, retain their clients and remain competitive within the market. We also consult with them regularly to see how we can better support them and their business.