Ron Jacobs, president
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace? What’s the reasoning for them?
AMResorts is new to Funjet and will fill a prior gap in our product offering. We’re also adding charter routes as a result of the merger with Apple Leisure Group. We will now have 19 departure gateways, compared to 12 previously [so] more agents will be able to increase their commissions while offering cost savings and flexibility to their clients. We are the only tour operator that allows agents to book Southwest Air right in our system, including newly launched St. Louis departures to Punta Cana and Jamaica as well as new Southwest flights to Cancun out of Milwaukee.
We’re also looking to expand our hotel, tour and transfer offerings in Europe, encouraged by a surge in bookings that began last fall.
What is your key strategy these days?
Funjet’s strategy has been and continues to be helping travel agents become more productive and profitable. We accomplish this in a number of ways, from having a most sophisticated booking platform to providing the right tools and earning opportunities for our agent partners.
Our charter flight program and the higher commission levels it provides has been a central part of this core strategy and we are excited to expand [it] with new destinations such as Puerto Plata and Huatulco. We will also serve new gateways, including Boston (BOS), Columbus (CMH), Detroit (DTW), Indianapolis (IND), Lansing (LAN), Minneapolis (MSP), Philadelphia (PHL), Pittsburgh (PIT) and Chicago’s Rockford International Airport (RFD).
What is your most exotic, unusual new offering?
We define “unusual” differently than operators who sell more obscure destinations. To us, product such as Hotel Xcaret, where you get unlimited entrance to multiple parks with transportation to and from your hotel included, offers a level of value that goes beyond the traditional all-inclusive vacation.
We’re also looking forward to the first Nobu Hotel in Mexico, slated to open in May 2019. Born out of the partnership between Robert De Niro and chef Nobu Matsuhisa, this venture will combine the upscale dining and hospitality in a beachfront setting [in Los Cabos] that blends contemporary Japanese minimalism with locally sourced Mexican materials.
What’s your “tried-and-true” mainstay offering that clients continue to love?
Mexico remains our top destination. Clients simply love it because of the warmth of the people and the hospitality culture. Mexico also scores high points for ease of travel and unmatched value. Our charter flights to Cancun and other popular destinations within Mexico further enhance that value in addition to providing agents with opportunities to earn higher commissions.
How are you serving the desire many consumers have to “live like a local” and to have “authentic” experiences?
We’ve seen the most demand for authenticity and local experiences in Costa Rica, but have observed this trend in Mexico and other destinations as well. This is demonstrated by the success of partner hotels such as UNICO 20°87°, where authenticity is at the center of their hospitality vision. This “best of both worlds” approach provides the comfort and value of an all-inclusive resort, but clients are surrounded by genuine Mexican architecture and natural resources.
We also offer condo and rental home options in destinations such as Orlando and Hawaii, which provide travelers with more freedom and flexibility to experience life as a local.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2018/19?
We’re essentially doing what we’ve always done — giving agents the tools they need to maximize their success and increase their bottom line. This means putting agents in control of their own earnings and profitability as well as giving them the marketing support and content they need to more effectively reach out to their customers. Tools like Creative Connection have been revamped to make them more relevant to agents’ needs, while a lot of emphasis has been placed on education, putting business-enhancing knowledge at agents’ fingertips. Our Ultimate Agent Rewards incentives for front-line agents, which include Upgrade Bonus, Agent Bonus Cash and the Stars program — as well as the 500 Club at an agency level — also remain popular.