Travel is more than just deals and destinations these days: it’s far more experiential and far more customized from end to end, says GOGO Vacations President John Van den Heuvel. The company is also offering new cancel for any reason insurance and expanding its cruise offerings.
What is your focus on the U.S. Travel agent for 2019/20?
We aim to provide our travel agents with the best tools, products and service offerings possible. Our focus of 2019 is to further strengthen the travel agent offering to consumers through technology, training, enhanced partnerships, up to date industry information, and more.
What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers?
Travel isn’t just about deals and destinations anymore. It’s far more experiential, far more customized — from end to end. Customers are interested in comprehensive, personalized travel options that suit their individual needs and preferences. Consequently, our partner agencies seek comprehensive solutions from us that satisfy all aspects of their business.
How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
Earlier this year, we introduced our new suite of trip cancellation waivers, TripSecure. It allows a cancel for any reason (“CFAR”) waiver to be sold separately or combined with a ticket now, pay later program. Simultaneously, we launched our Air-Only Group Sales division. It’s a unique service that fills a hole and maximizes efficiencies for travel agents, by handling all contract negotiations from start to finish. At the beginning of 2019, GOGO created a team of cruise specialists to support the expansion of the brand’s cruise line offerings, providing customers with a seamless and personalized cruise booking experience. Each new program and service that we’re introducing is designed to satisfy a specific need for our partner agents. In turn, we’re increasing their earning potential, while challenging the status quo and raising industry standards.
What new destinations have you introduced this year? What was the reason?
Well, actually, even better than new destinations, we launched products from five different cruise lines in October 2018. This was due to the high demand from our partner agents and customers. These new offerings were (and continue to be) very well received by travelers.
Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available?
Our newly enhanced groups booking platform makes groups product and groups offerings more efficient, extensive and experiential for the consumer, while making the groups booking process more streamlined for the travel agent.
What are some of the challenges on the horizon for tourism in general?
Aside from personalization and flexibility, today’s traveler seeks convenience. This speaks to everything from the ability to leverage loyalty points to the desire for mobile booking tools and intelligence. I think keeping up with, or better yet, ahead of the technology curve is essential to the future of travel. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) can help to better tailor experiences, and increase engagement.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
GOGO sells the world. From fun in the sun destinations like the Caribbean and Mexico, to Europe, Asia, South Pacific, and yes, the many great destinations right here in North America. No matter what happens at home or abroad within tourism, there is always an offering that a travel agent can feel comfortable and confident in selling.