Personalization and the addition of two new destinations in India are part of Delta Vacations’ plans for 2020, President Jennie Ho tells Travel Agent. The company has also added new destinations in the United States, plus it's expanding its hotel portfolio significantly with a focus on four-star and above properties.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2019/20?
Our focus continues to be on service. Our dedicated agents at our Customer Engagement Center deliver exceptional service and support 24/7. I go back to our low wait times because that makes a difference. I am very proud of Delta Vacations University — our travel agent education and networking event with 70 classes and keynote speakers. The event takes place September 21-22 at the Cobo Center in Detroit.
What new destinations have you introduced this year? What was the reason?
We recently added Santa Barbara, CA, and Hilton Head, SC. We plan to add Mumbai and New Delhi, India in September to support Delta’s new JFK/BOM flight service, which starts on December 22. In the last couple of years, we have added destinations like the Azores, Portugal; Bordeaux, France; Crete, Greece; and Salzburg, Austria. Europe continues to be a place of interest for many of our customers because of its extensive cultural heritage.
Do you see any new market trends?
The “hot” travel trend is the ability to personalize or customize each vacation experience. This allows every customer to not only save time and cross off more items on their bucket list, but they can go at their own pace. Our customers are always ready for an adventure, whether it’s an all-inclusive vacation or a curated experience; they know where they want to go and they want more choices and control.
How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
Our product team has been working to add more private tours and local experiences to give our customers the opportunity to try new destinations.
Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available?
Since 2018, we’ve added nearly 1,000 new hotels to our portfolio with a focus on four-star and above properties in the U.S. and Europe. Additionally, we are expanding our condominiums and serviced apartments accommodations. Mexico and the Caribbean are the heart of what we offer at Delta Vacations. We’ve added dozens of new activities, tours and transfers with a focus on key destinations: Hawaii, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean, including new private transfers in Sicily, Italy. Some unique experiential offers include a chocolate tasting walking tour in Paris, a kayak / canoe tour of the volcanic crater lakes in the Azores and the Hong Kong street market food tour. We also rolled out culinary walking tours and cooking classes in Europe as well as private tours in the Mexico and Caribbean destinations.
What are some of the challenges on the horizon for tourism in general?
Customer safety is always on our mind. When our customers are planning their trip with us, we are their reliable partner and have their back every step of the way, and we do this through serving our customers with our 24/7 Customer Engagement Center and Destination Help Center. We also rely on our partners in-destination to keep our customers safe. Cyber-crime will continue to be another challenge to tourism. Delta has established safeguards to protect the information we collect. These safeguards are reviewed regularly to protect against unauthorized access, disclosure and improper use of information.
What are some of the destinations you’d like to go into?
Delta Vacations has a newly expanded relationship with Korean Air and WestJet to grow our position in Asia and Canada. The Delta and Korean Air joint venture provides Delta Vacations with access to more than 80 destinations in Asia. The Delta and WestJet partnership will provide substantial reach into Canada and the U.S with trans-border service to more than 30 cities covering 95 percent of the U.S. – Canada demand.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
The breadth and scope of our vacation offerings really sets us apart. Customers can choose from more than 330 destinations and 5,000 hotels worldwide. It’s all about individualization and customization for our customers. We can’t control what’s happening in different destinations but we can provide our customers with a 24/7 call center and wait times averaging at 7 to 9 minutes.