Offering an array of educational sessions for the travel agent community, the 2-day Delta Vacations University, in its 25th year, just wrapped up, and Recommend got the 4-1-1 on new destinations, new hotel partnerships and new experiences that you can now offer your clients via Delta Vacations.
More than 1,000 travel professionals attended each day of the event, and nearly 200 of Delta Vacations’ travel partners participated in the trade show, including La Coleccion by Fiesta Americana, German National Tourist Board, Tahiti Tourisme, The Florida Keys and Key West, Azores Promotion Board, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Atout France, and Enterprise Rent-a-Car, among a long list of hotels, tourism bureaus and DMC partners.
This 25th anniversary, says Jennie Ho, Delta Vacations’ president, “is a special moment for us. It speaks to our commitment to the travel agent community. More than anything, this is an agency networking and education event, offering 75 unique destination and partner classes,” Ho adds. “We work with partners to ensure that the presenters really experience the product for themselves, so what the agent comes here for is to get things that they can’t find on Google. We offer custom and unique content in the classes.” Incidentally, travel advisors, notes Ho, have shaped the classes that are offered at the University.
When you think of how much information is out there…travelers get confused…to have a travel professional that can guide you, help you,
ensure that you are going to the right destination,
the right kind of vacation…it’s so critical.
— Elizabeth E. Moriarty, Vice President, Product Development, Delta Vacations
New Delta Vacations Destinations & Experiences
“We offer more than 300 destinations globally,” says Elizabeth E. Moriarty, v.p. of product development for Delta Vacations, “and we are continuing to add destinations.” “We typically add about a dozen new destinations every year,” points out Patricia Christensen, sr. director, product development, North America, international & dynamic pkg, “and keep building them out.” Included among the new destinations are the Azores, Bordeaux, Crete and Salzburg, which were all a focal point of classes travel advisors had the opportunity to attend during this past weekend’s Delta Vacations University. Last year, Delta Vacations debuted Tahiti as a new destination, and Moriarty says that “it’s doing super; we are very pleased with the destination.”
The tour operator has also added new experiences around the globe. “We are adding new personalized experiences in the Caribbean and Mexico,” says Eric Fandek, sr. director of product development for Delta Vacations, noting that, “people are going to be able to personalize their vacation experience. One of my favorites is in Mexico, where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the culture of Mexico. You’ll meet a chef, and he or she will walk you around the market, you’ll pick the food that you would like to cook, and he or she will take you to their home or a place to cook, and then you’ll cook it and have a meal. There are also food tours, a private guided tour to Chichen Itza….”
“We have experiential offerings in Europe as well,” says Christensen. “There’s a new Irish food and whisky tour—small group—in Ireland, where you drink with the locals in traditional Irish pubs; and in Paris, there’s a St. Germain de Pres gourmet patisserie and chocolate tasting walking tour.” In Europe, by the way, Delta Vacations has over 60 destinations…and the operator is looking to add to that number sooner than later.
Other locally immersive experiences include surf lessons and stargazing in Hawaii; a full-day bike and canoe/kayak tour of the volcanic crater lakes in the Azores; a Hong Kong walking tour where visitors visit street markets and taste local delicacies; and in the U.S. there’s a visit in New York City to the One World Observatory & 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Speaking of the U.S., the most popular domestic cities—with the strongest year over year growth—are Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, Palm Beach and Myrtle Beach. “There are lots of people who vacation in the U.S.,” says Ho, with Christensen adding that “there are lots of weekend getaways, they are very popular. We offer 160 U.S. destinations—we have a wide scope, and they are all doing really well.”
New Hotel Partnerships
Delta Vacations offers 5,000 hotels worldwide, and it’s always looking to expand its hotel partnerships. The plan, in fact, is to have 500 new hotels by year’s end, and, notes Moriarty, “this is our fourth consecutive year of adding more than 500 new hotels. The good news is we are focusing on Europe, where we continue to expand our hotel offerings, as well as the U.S./domestic market.
“We just executed a 3-year agreement with Hilton—we have a global distribution agreement,” says Moriarty. “We have always worked with Hilton, but on a property level or regional agreement. We’ve also added more than 60 new Kimpton hotels.”
“We have focused on the luxury brands,” notes Christensen. “Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Curio—those are very popular. We have been focusing on the four- and five-star hotels.” Adds Ho, “85 percent of our revenue comes from four-stars and above.
“Overall our top line revenue is growing double-digits,” Ho points out. “We have been very purposefully expanding our global footprint so we can weather the ups and downs of a specific region—that diversification strategy has allowed us as a company to really be less impacted should something happen in one given spot.”
For more information on Delta Vacations’ hotel partnerships, new destinations and all of its travel agent tools, visit worldagentdirect.com.