Apple Leisure Group (ALG) announced a number of new programs, including a new, unified rewards program, new marketing and travel protection programs, and new features for the Vax VacationAccess booking engine at its Ascend conference. The conference took place at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, September 16 – 18.
New “Waves” Travel Advisor Rewards
The new rewards program, called “Waves,” will allow travel advisors to earn points on purchases across all Apple Leisure Group Vacations brands, starting November 4. The company said that the new program will be easier to use and will allow redemption options for bookings with Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations, Travel Impressions, United Vacations, Blue Sky Tours and Southwest Vacations.
Agents can redeem points for travel rewards such as hotel stays, seats on exclusive nonstop vacation flights or VAX air credit, or convert points to dollar-value currency with the Virtual Visa and select from national retailers’ entire stocks of name-brand items via a Virtual Mall (with purchases eligible for retailer loyalty programs).
The Virtual Visa works like a physical credit card and can be redeemed anywhere Visa is accepted. Agents will not be restricted to virtual mall purchases and can sync their virtual card with Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay digital wallet services to pay for goods and services at physical storefront locations as well as online retailers.
The company will reward top Waves earners via a tiered agent recognition program called Wavemakers that will provide additional benefits, including exclusive promotions, FAM trip discounts, up to 300,000 bonus reward points, elite customer service access with dedicated phone line and email contact, and marketing support.
Wavemakers status for 2021 will be based on agents’ performance throughout 2020 with entrance into each subsequent years’ recognition programs based on bookings received during the previous calendar year.
New Marketing Platform
In marketing news, the company has launched ALGV360, a new online marketing tool. Via a new online portal, advisors can include their own logos and call to action on promotional materials featuring Apple Leisure Group Vacations destinations, hotel partners and brand specific sales and promotions.
The online marketing platform is accessible from any location with Internet access, including on mobile devices. It also incorporates advanced search filters and other user-friendly features, as well as a training and support section.
New Travel Protection Program
A new, simplified travel protection program for Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Funjet Vacations, Blue Sky Tours and United Vacations will be available as a premium add-on for bookings beginning December 2019, applying to travel taking place in 2020.
Simplified pricing tiers for all destinations will be based on package price, rather than the duration of travel. The new program starts at $79.99 per traveler and includes enhanced quoting and merchandizing tools, as well as a number of pre-departure benefits that include cancel- or change-for-any-reason coverage; deposits as low as $1; commission protection of up to $100 on cancelled reservations; hurricane protection; and 24/7 travel assistance. (Some terms and conditions apply.)
New Group Self-Service Features in Vax
Finally, the company is rolling out new enhancements to the Groups Dashboard on Vax VacationAccess.
Advisors will be able to take advantage of Automated Inventory Requests available to all Caribbean and Mexico groups traveling in 2020 and beyond. They will also have the ability to add additional rooms from originally contracted room categories as well as book pre- and post-trip room nights outside of their contracted room block. Rooms placed on request will be automatically sent to the travel advisor’s designated Service Pod for follow up action with the hotel, meaning there will be no need to email requests.
Advisors can also add scheduled air or exclusive nonstop vacation flights to existing land-only groups, based on availability of inventory. The reservation package type will automatically update to ensure competitive pricing, ALG said.