Virgin Vacations reports it has introduced a new program specifically designed to help agents sell group travel. Under its Group Therapy program, Virgin will provide a dedicated, full-service consumer-facing web page customized for the agency. The web page provides complete program and destination information, as well as a seamless booking and payment system, Virgin says.
The web site does everything for the agent, from promotion through payment, Virgin says. "Agents don't have to worry about creating promotional materials, setting up the booking process, or collecting payment, as clients pay directly through the web site," says Nigel Osborne, president, Virgin Vacations.
Group travel is on the rise, Osborne reports, noting that Virgin Vacations developed the group program in response to growing demand from travel agents. "We are seeing an increase in group travel, especially multi-generational. Another popular group option is river cruises," he said.
Agents can choose from two group types, reducing the risk for both agents and their clients.
Group bookings for escorted tours and river cruises: This allows agents to block space on the departure of choice. According to Osborne, Virgin Vacations will work with agents to determine the best price based on the departure date. Agents will receive 10 percent commission on the land portion, plus 1 free place (Land Only) for 20 paying passengers on all regular-priced bookings. Virgin will secure best available pricing on air rates, but, due to fluctuations in fuel pricing, airfare is priced at net.
Custom group bookings include one free land for each 15 passengers booked. Rate quotes are net for escorted, independent, cruise vacations, and air, allowing agents to add their own markup.
Osborne notes that agents can choose from Virgin Vacations' more than 50 different escorted group tour and cruise itineraries, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia/New Zealand. Additionally, the company has low-priced, blocked air space to Europe and destinations worldwide, providing a one-source solution for all booking and promotional needs.
According to Osborne, Virgin Vacations is helping agents take the stress out of the planning and booking process, by providing everything needed to maximize commissions and to increase their following.
"We want to provide agents with a simple solution that gives their clients value for their dollar and also maximizes profits for the agent. It's all part of our mission to forge a strong relationship with the travel agent community," he says.
"To that end, through our technology platform agents can set up an affiliate or a distribution point online, where they can also receive point-of-sale material. We have customized flyers and mailers, plus access to a group of dedicated group itinerary specialists."
"Agents can leave all the details and planning to our itinerary experts who are trained to create custom travel solutions, plus offer travel advice and guidance. With our new Group Therapy Program, Virgin Vacations can help agents close sales," Osborne says.
Virgin Vacations was established in 1994 to provide Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Vacations customers with inclusive vacation packages to London and beyond. Today, the company has expanded its reach and product, with tours and packages worldwide.
Agents can book their clients on escorted tours with or without air fare on Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Virgin America, as well as on other international airlines. As a member of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, Virgin Vacations protects travelers' payments up to $1 Million through the USTOA Travelers Assistance Program.