Travel Impressions is headed to Cuba. That was among the big announcements made at the tour operator's "Best of the Best" 2018 event, which is taking place at the Breathless Riviera Maya from November 15 - 18.
"Soon your clients will be able to go with Travel Impressions to Havana, Cuba," Travel Impressions President Scott Wiseman said at the company's Havana Nights-themed party immediately following the opening General Session. While further details on the Cuba expansion are not yet available, Wiseman did offer a number of other updates stemming from the merger between Apple Leisure Group and The Mark Travel Corporation into a single parent company.
"Travel Impressions remains a luxury brand for discerning travel agents," Wiseman said, noting that agents booking with Travel Impressions would receive priority in the call center, and that Travel Impressions would continue to offer the highest commissions among ALG brands.
With Travel Impressions now on Vax VacationAccess, the booking platform from Trisept Solutions that the Mark Travel merger brought to the combined company, the focus is now on offering a number of individual tweaks based on agent feedback. These include revisiting the documents that Vax generates, as well as a number of policy changes aimed at offering agents greater flexibility.
"We're flipping the switch on being able to book more hotels with better pricing through nonrefundable rates," Wiseman said. "We're also discontinuing the $25 floor on ALG price matches."
Wiseman also offered a number of details on ALG's new, unified travel agent loyalty system (officially launching next year), including that Travel Impressions' LoyalTI First program would form the "foundation" of the new system. That said, "it will incorporate the best features from all of the brands," promised Wiseman.
The program will include a LoyalTI First Virtual Mall that will allow agents to redeem loyalty points with name-brand and national retailers, as well as ALG merchandise, or to make donations with partner charities, such as the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Tourism Cares, the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO, United Way and JDRF. Agents will be able to use rewards points to book travel with Travel Impressions -- including on Southwest Airlines -- and they will even be able to earn points on these redemptions.
Additionally, the program will include a "Virtual Visa" that agents will be able to use to redeem points exactly like a physical credit card, but for online purchases. The card will allow agents to convert points to dollar-value currency in real time, and it will be usable with any online retailer that accepts Visa. It also syncs with Apple iPay, Google Wallet, and Samsung Pay.
Finally, Wiseman announced the launch of a new commission tier -- the "Super Tier."
"We wanted to simplify the structure and introduce a new 'Super Tier' for our top-producing partners, like the 'Best of the Best,'" Wiseman said.
As part of the new "Super Tier," agents who qualify for Travel Impressions' highest commission level will automatically qualify for the top commission tier of another brand when booking with that brand. "There's no need to start from scratch," Wiseman said.