Jack E. Richards, president and CEO
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace?
We expanded our Japan & Asia portfolio in August to include Hong Kong package vacations for Pleasant Holidays and Journese, including multi-destination vacation options that explore both. We also added cruise vacation protection plan coverage to our product line. In late October, South America will become our newest destination with the introduction of Colombia vacation packages with dynamic rates and inventory and instant reservation confirmations.
What is your most exotic, unusual new offering?
Exotic can vary greatly depending upon the perspective of the traveler, so we offer a vast and varying portfolio to suit a variety of tastes. Our Japan & Asia portfolio, which includes Tokyo, Osaka, Hakone, Kyoto and Hong Kong, is a popular choice. We also offer a variety of boutique cruise vacations, including UnCruise Adventures in the Galapagos, Windstar Cruises in Greece, AmaWaterways voyages in Vietnam and Cambodia, and Iceland ProCruises. Additionally, Journese, our luxury brand, offers vacations in the United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand.
Are you modifying your offerings to accommodate the desire many consumers have to “live like a local?”
The majority of our travelers actually don’t want to live like a local; that is not our market. Our travelers want a vacation with a well-appointed room with daily maid service and an incredible view. They do, however, want an authentic experience of the destination. To address that, our Pleasant Activities brand continues to expand to include immersive cultural experiences and private tours. We are expanding our partnership with Island Routes in the Caribbean and will do so in other destinations throughout the world to offer authentic experiences in the local culture.
Have you seen the age of your customers change at all in the past year or so?
Family vacations have always been a big part of our business. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to enter retirement, we see an increasing number of them celebrating their newly acquired free time with travel, often starting with a multigeneration family reunion. A few months later they may splurge with a grand retirement celebration vacation for two to the destination that tops their bucket list. Then they’ll add a few long weekend getaways with and without friends.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2018/19?
Pleasant Holidays and Journese remain champions of the travel advisor and will continue to support and court their business. We offer one-stop-shop convenience for complete vacation packages, including flights on all airlines; accommodations at Excellence Groups, Playa, Sandals & Beaches, AMResorts, Marriott, Hyatt, Fairmont and more; airport transfers and car rentals; commissionable sightseeing tours and excursions; and travel protection plans that automatically include commission protection for travel advisors.
We continue to invest heavily in technology that makes the booking process faster and easier, including enhancements for mobile devices. We have 19 business development managers nationwide, focused on growing their advisors’ commission income by identifying new strategies and opportunities. TRIP, our travel reward incentive program, allows advisors to earn points for personal travel with every booking. Pleasant Holidays’ Elite Experience and Journese’ Curators Celebration recognize our top performing travel advisors of the year with a luxurious getaway.
What is your key strategy these days and why?
Although best known for Hawaii vacations, the company now offers Mexico, Caribbean, Tahiti / Fiji, Europe, Central America, USA, Canada, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Japan. The company will continue to expand throughout Asia in 2019, including additions in China, Singapore, Vietnam and others. South America destinations will also be added in 2019.
What’s your “tried-and-true” mainstay offering that clients continue to love?
Hawaii is our single largest destination today. The company operates one of the largest Destination Management Companies in Hawaii with more than 100 employees on four islands selling Hawaii destination activities, events, tours, luaus and sporting events, plus corporate incentive groups. Last year marked 20 years of our selling South Pacific vacations, featuring Bora Bora’s iconic overwater bungalows. We are currently celebrating 25 years offering Mexico vacations and 10 years selling the Caribbean. In 2019, we will celebrate 60 years of selling Hawaii vacations.