Between Apple Leisure Group’s merger with the Mark Travel Corporation and the alliances of ALG subsidiary Travel Impressions with other leading travel brands (e.g. Backroads, SITA, Villas of Distinction), TI has experienced unprecedented worldwide growth in 2017. (See recommend.com/news-tools/post-merger-travel-impressions-part-1 for more on that.) But how to organize 250,000 hotels, 30,000 tours and transfers, group travel, and other offerings so travel advisors can efficiently work with ALG’s increased world of choices? By migrating booking and other services for travel advisors to the robust VAX Vacation Access platform.
At Travel Impressions’ Best of the Best meeting at Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, company president Scott Wiseman likened the adoption of the VAX Vacation Access platform to “an analog-to-digital” transformation of the booking process. “As a platform with a lot of self-serve features, [VAX gives travel advisors] more freedom and independence than ever before, more control over your bookings, and more instant gratification, which is really important when you have a customer waiting on the line,” said Wiseman.
VAX, with which many advisors already have some familiarity, also gives them “the ability to make bookings from a mobile device and the freedom to self-modify reservations, along with live hotel content, personalized email quotes, payment flexibility and surcharge options.” Arranging pre- and post-cruise bookings is simpler, as is billing clients who purchase trips on the installment plan.
Travel Advisors’ Reaction
The reaction of Darrin Moore, manager of Allure Travel at CTM, reflected that of several other travel advisors with whom this reporter talked during Best of the Best. “Now all the sister companies, other brands, and destinations worldwide are rolled up in one site—all with one login on the same booking engine, so it’s faster and easier to research and to book,” he said. “And my people already knew VAX.”
Suzanne L. Bowering of Holiday Travel said, “I know VAX basics,” but she doesn’t feel expert at it yet. However, she added, “Everyone who’s used it loves it, and it is getting easier and faster, and it will be even more efficient.”
Travel Impressions has also rolled out training programs that help travel advisors make the most of this new one-stop-shopping platform. Other innovations include additions to the EducaTIon First program (e.g. December’s #WeekendLearning on Facebook will be “The Thing about Couples”), the TI360° marketing hub, and charter flights. Fees for CFAR have been simplified, too. Coming soon: a LoyalTI First Virtual Mall and a Virtual Visa, which will provide even more point redemption options.
Michael Ehlers, senior director of Groups, said that new technology for group bookings will provide more flexibility and streamline the process. VAX makes it easier to, say, upgrade a room even if the new room was not in the original room category. No more need for travel advisors to create spreadsheets for complex group bookings; VAX essentially does that for them. Moreover, Ehlers has assembled a team of more than 200 experts to support inquiries regarding travel advisors’ groups business.
Just the same, Wiseman made one other point that hearkens back to the expansion of OneALG’s destinations and other services: “The platform doesn’t define the brand.”
For more information, visit travimp.com.