TORONTO — Vacation.com will unveil its new consumer website at its 2015 conference onboard Quantum of the Seas this April.
Vacation.com agents attending the conference will have the chance to create their online ‘Agent Snapshot’ profiles while onboard Quantum, with the help of Vacation.com’s professional writers. The profiles include information about each agent’s destination expertise and niche market specialties, with search terms that will help would-be clients find the right agent. Each profile also has a section for reviews, and the more reviews an agent receives, the higher their profile will appear on the results page.
Vacation.com has about 21,000 travel agents under its banner, and so far 500 or so have completed their online profiles. “Those inspiring travel agent bios are going to help our SEO (search engine optimization),” said Stephen McGillivray, CMO, Travel Leaders Group. “We’ve always said, we’re not selling vacations with our Vacation.com website. We’re selling travel agents. We want to merchandise our members because they’re the biggest asset we have.”
Vacation.com also wants to give its members the online advantage, he added. “We want them to be online, to be able to compete and to capture online business from the Millennials.”
For more details about the online profiles, Vacation.com agents can check out agentuniverse.com or call 1-800-843-0733.
Vacation.com’s annual conference and trade show sets sail on Quantum of the Seas on April 24, for an eight-day cruise out of Cape Liberty, NJ to Florida and the Bahamas. This year’s theme is ‘Think Bigger’ and keynote speakers include Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Michael Bayley, and consultant Randy Garfield, recently retired from The Walt Disney Company. The conference is nearing sell-out status, with 1,000-plus attendees registered to take part (including 120 Canadians).
Once the consumer interface website has been unveiled at the conference, the goal is to have it up and running live upon the ship’s return, said Tiffany Glass, COO, Vacation.com.
Vacation.com now counts some 700 agents in Canada, and the group has a positive outlook for 2015. Early reports show a strong start to Wave Season and high season for both cruise and tour bookings, and a weakening Canadian dollar has not yet impacted future bookings, said Christine James, Vice-President Canada, Vacation.com.
Hawaii and other exotic markets are outperforming a strong 2014. The group is also reporting double-digit growth in escorted tours, with Europe in particular performing very well. The pace for 2015 bookings of sun and sand vacations is well ahead of 2014. Vacation.com is also reporting a steady uptick in safari business after a disappointing Q3 and Q4.
Vacation.com recently surveyed its agents and 95% said bookings were at par or greater than the same time last year. Almost all (99%) said their clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2015.
Top North American destinations include Las Vegas, Orlando, Hawaii, New York City, California, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
Top international destinations include Med cruises, Mexico (east and west), Cuba, European river cruises, Caribbean cruises, Italy, Jamaica and the D.R.
Vacation.com’s Engagement program continues to set records, with an unprecedented 162 direct mail and e-mail promotions available for agents to use in 2015.
Last month Vacation.com launched On Cue, its new client cultivation tool for Engagement Select members. The program uses Vacation.com’s ClientBase data to auto-send individual e-mails for birthdays and anniversaries, passport expiration, bon voyages messages and the like.