Growth domestically and in Europe is the latest trend from United Vacations, says Managing Director Jay Seltz. The tour operator is also expanding operations to support United Airlines’ route network, such as with new hotel product for travelers on the airline’s new nonstop flight to Cape Town, South Africa.
What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers?
United Vacations continues to see domestic growth and also in destinations such as Europe while seeing some rebounding in Mexico. Obviously, we have seen impact from the negative news out of Dominican Republic, but the Caribbean remains strong overall and some of that demand has shifted to other destinations in the region.
How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends
As the official vacation brand of United Airlines we focus on a wide breadth of product in support of United’s worldwide route network. We pair those destinations with a variety of top-rated accommodation choices, attractive sale campaigns and valuable incentives to motivate our agent partners and their clients.
What new destinations have you introduced this year? What was the reason?
Our product offering aligns with United’s worldwide route network and when they add new destinations we add these to our portfolio and put efforts in place to support those destinations. For instance, the airline recently added non-stop service to Cape Town, South Africa and United Vacations now services this new destination with the Westin Cape Town and three Protea Hotels by Marriott-branded properties, two of which offer spectacular waterfront views. We’ve also added Europe product with Naples, Portugal, Prague, Reykjavik and Zurich.
Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available?
We are constantly adding new hotel inventory to our portfolio; for instance we recently added the Secrets hotel in Palma Mallorca, Spain and are also always expanding our vacation add-ons including rail service options in European destinations. We’ve also seen a lot of exciting new resort developments throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, including a number of new AMResorts openings as well as new properties and renovations by other hotel partners such as Hard Rock, Palladium and RIU Hotels and Resorts.
What are some of the challenges on the horizon for tourism in general
Negative news stories coming out of key destinations, any downturn in the U.S. economy or consumer spending habits, and natural disasters can all impact tourism. Some of these challenges are unpredictable or unavoidable, but a savvy travel agent is always the best asset a vacationer can have in their corner from the planning stage to the trip itself. Travel protection can also be a helpful tool for mitigating challenges so we strongly encourage agents to protect their clients’ travel investments.
What are some of the destinations you’d like to go into?
Because we are aligned with United Airlines our focus remains supporting their route network and their new service to new destinations and areas of increased capacity. Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings? We will continue to have all of the necessary facts and selling tools available for agents to provide the consumer with all of the information they need to make an informed decision on their vacation.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2019/20?
One of the great benefits of the [ALG/Mark Travel] merger is the increase in exposure to new agents who might not be as familiar with the United Vacations brand and, as such, we are focused on raising awareness within the agent community of the advantages of booking a vacation package with United Vacations for their customers.