Travel Impressions Expands…and Expands

Jamaica’s Fortlands Point Villa is in The Villa Experience by Travel Impressions’ portfolio.

Travel Impressions (TI) is increasing its inventory and becoming even more user-friendly for travel agents. Speaking at CHTA’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace at Atlantis, Paradise Island, executive v.p. and COO John Hanratty announced:

Travel Impressions’ destination wedding bookings increased 20 percent in 2012, and this was not because 2011 was a bad year. On the contrary, Travel Impressions’ wedding business grew 40 percent in 2011. What’s more, 2013 is on pace to grow by 30 percent on top of that.

The tour operator has added 18 properties to its diverse portfolio; they range from small hotels like The Inn at English Harbour to the new Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico to Grand Palladium resorts in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Pointing out that “Travel Impressions is the only tour operator for the Caribbean with a full villa program,” Paul Zar, v.p. of TI’s Caribbean Destination Team, reports that The Villa Experience by Travel Impressions continues to expand its offerings, too. Division chief and villas expert Robert Eastman has added properties that include the 7-bedroom Fortlands Point Villa in Jamaica; single-bedroom La Perla Bianca in St. Martin; and The Dream, a 5-bedroom beachfront villa in Barbados. Adds Hanratty, “We now feature about 300 Caribbean villas on our website. But that’s just the ‘featured’ villas; we can get anything.” For more information, see the upcoming February issue of Recommend.

In mid-2012, the company created Social U, a webinar program that teaches agents how to use social media, and it covers everything from “101” to more intricate topics. And this is not just a sales tool for Travel Impressions; agents can, of course, use these skills in all their work. What’s more, the website allows people to catch up on sessions they’ve missed. How popular is this? Already they’re attracting around 700 travel agents per session. TI also has an interactive Dimension Series of online presentations on particular suppliers.

Travel Impressions, a subsidiary of American Express, is a major supplier for Sandals, Couples, Atlantis, AMResorts, Karisma, RIU and other resort companies. “We’ve recently had 7 percent growth for the Caribbean region, and revenues are up in double digits,” said Hanratty. “In addition, 2013 looks very strong.” Asked about Baha Mar, the huge resort complex expected to open on Nassau Island in late 2014, Hanratty replied, “I’m sure that will be in our plans.”

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