Jack E. Richards,
President and CEO
What is your key strategy for 2017?
Pleasant Holidays will continue to globalize its product offerings in high-volume leisure travel destinations and market segments. This strategic growth plan was launched several years ago to diversify the business primarily into international markets. Since the launch of this strategic growth plan, Pleasant Holidays has expanded into the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Nicaragua and vacation destinations across the United States. Hawaii continues to be the single largest destination for the company in terms of sales and passengers.
What are your newest destinations and products?
Pleasant Holidays has continued to add new destinations in Europe since entering this market in 2013. We now offer 16 countries and 54 cities in Europe, Eurostar and Trenitalia rail tickets, plus four cruise lines. The newest destinations include Austria, Hungary, The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, plus cruise vacations in Iceland and Greenland. Europe is the largest international destination for U.S. travelers and offers abundant air seat capacity. We believe there is a significant opportunity to grow our business in Europe with low airfares and a favorable currency exchange rate. Two destinations in Mexico were expanded with new hotel and activity product: Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Our Journese luxury brand recently launched vacation packages to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE partnering with Emirates Airlines and many luxury resorts, including Atlantis, Fairmont, One&Only, St. Regis, Waldorf Astoria and others. U.S. tourism to Dubai has been growing over the past few years and expanded flight service now makes traveling there very convenient from many U.S. cities.
How do you determine which destinations to go into next?
Pleasant Holidays focuses on leisure travel destinations for U.S. visitors with adequate air access and a good infrastructure, including a mix of upscale and luxury hotels, land options and cruise options. Our travel agent partners always recommend new destinations to us based upon their sales; we research this information and proceed accordingly.
Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
We visited Cuba in 2016 and the destination is on our radar screen to become part of our Caribbean program. The current infrastructure there is decades old and needs significant improvement to handle the increased volume from the United States. The current U.S. government rules and regulations for Cuba travel make it a very complex and time-consuming process, so we are hopeful this situation will change in the near future. Cuba will become part of our Caribbean program.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2017?
Pleasant Holidays is a Preferred Tour Operator Supplier with all major travel agency consortia. We recently revamped the leadership of our sales team with the appointments of Lisa Pisaturo as vice president of sales strategy, and Nancy Logan as director of sales; together they bring new energy, ideas and strategies to better serve the needs of our travel agent partners. In addition, Pleasant Holidays expanded our sales team to include a new regional sales manager in the northeast, 18 full-time business development managers (BDMs), and inside sales support.
Over the last two years, we made large capital investments to grow online sales with a new travel agent website at PleasantAgent.com, which includes expanded content, hotel videos and virtual tours, expanded flight options, interactive Google maps, and a new Travel Agent Resource Center. We’ve also increased the number of hotels in our portfolio available for online booking with real-time rates, inventory and instant reservation confirmations. We offer online training programs for travel agents through pre-recorded webinars.
In 2016, Pleasant Holidays enhanced TRIP, its Travel Reward Incentive Program with a new level: Premier Tier. TRIP awards points for personal travel to all travel agents for every Pleasant Holidays and Journese booking.