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Now that she’s been at Central Holidays a few months, we thought we’d ask Lori Corless, v.p. of marketing for the tour operator, what key elements travel agents should keep top of mind when selling Central Holidays.

Paloma Villaverde de Rico (PVR): Now that you’ve been in your role a couple of months, what new direction do you think you’ll be bringing to Central Holidays? 

Lori Corless (LC): I’m thrilled to be part of this long-established travel provider that has been working with the travel agent community since 1972. Moving forward we are further reaffirming our commitment to our travel agent partners and re-establishing our brand with an even stronger and more active presence in the industry. From new agent resources, training opportunities—such as seminars, webinars, and FAM trips; sales support via our destination experts; group travel planning resources; and so much more, agents can very much look forward to new opportunities for boosting their income by working with Central Holidays.

PVR: How does Central Holidays differentiate itself from other similar tour operators—what are three elements that travel agents should keep top of mind when trying to book a Central Holidays tour? 

LC: Travel agents and their clients quickly notice the difference of traveling with the destination experts at Central Holidays—whether exploring Italy, Europe and the Med, Latin America, Cuba, or beyond to Egypt, the Holy Land, or South Africa. Our dedicated team of specialists knows the ins and outs of the destinations we serve and deliver the experiences of clients’ dreams. From the planning stages, through each trip and even after they return home…we are with them every step of the way. We also feature a range of types of travel that is virtually unparalleled including premier escorted tours, hosted itineraries, independent travel, customized group travel, fly/drive vacations, ocean and river cruises, plus niche offerings such as honeymoons, religious pilgrimages, culinary travel opportunities, and special interest vacations such as our new Divinely Divorced programs. Yet it is the truly insightful planning, experience-rich activities, bonus touring, and extra perks—such as hand-selected, centrally located hotels and local restaurants—that turn a Central Holidays trip into an unforgettable experience travelers cherish for a lifetime.

PVR: Any new tools for travel agents that CH will be rolling out? 

LC: Our goal is to make doing business with Central Holidays easy and profitable for agents. As such, we are always adding to and enhancing our range of training opportunities, promotions, and incentives for agents. We are thrilled to be introducing even more resources for travel pros in 2018. As we continue to develop the affordable luxury travel programs that fulfill travelers’ wishes—all commissionable to agents—look to see new dates added on to our acclaimed seminar series, check out our insightful new monthly newsletter launched in February, join in on one of our webinars, and get ready to enjoy the convenience of our dedicated travel agent portal with an intelligent booking engine scheduled for launch later this year.

PVR: Why do you believe travel agents are such a viable force in travel and what do you think travel agents bring to the table for Central Holidays?

LC: Our travel agent partners have always been and certainly remain steadfast in their role as our front line sales force. They are true experts in travel and we rely on them as our partners to inform their clients about the benefits of working with Central Holidays—from the reliability of traveling with a long-established travel brand nearly five decades strong…to the destination expertise and personalized service of our team, to the virtually unlimited range of “affordable luxury” travel opportunities we provide, the benefits of working with Central Holidays are vast. This is one of the reasons that we are ramping up our seminar series as participating agents have deemed them a huge success! In this interactive and live forum, agents show how very much they continue being so interested in our products—they want to learn more and more.… And then they are taking that info to their clients as evidenced by the 30+ percent increasing in bookings we are experiencing this year over the previous year.

PVR: Why is it so important for tour companies such as Central Holidays to have a great working relationship with travel agents? 

LC: Simply said…we only work via travel agents and group planners —we do not sell direct. We understand how travelers make the decisions about the kinds of travel opportunities that we provide and that is by working with their trusted travel agent. A professional travel advisor is our greatest ally in determining the ideal travel opportunity that is the right fit for their client among our vast range of offerings…or we can tailor create something just for them. It is in the precision-planning and delivering of outstanding travel that continues to earn us such a high rate of repeat travelers—which in turn supports our agent partners by bolstering their client’s loyalty.

PVR: How does Central Holidays cater to today’s travelers looking for authentic, “live like a local” experiences?

LC: Central Holidays is composed of travel pros that know the industry and the destinations we serve intimately. We, ourselves, are passionate travelers, enthusiastic about showing the corners of the world to others and, as such, present the most authentically rich experiences for travelers. It’s one of the traits that sets Central Holidays apart from others and keeps travelers exploring the world with us time and time again. Our knowledgeable destination specialists take travelers to delve deeper into the culture, customs, and places they yearn to explore—including not only the most popular destinations but also amazing off-the-beaten-path villages and towns. We are proud to present one-of-a-kind experiences as part of our travel programs, such as cooking classes with renowned chefs in Italy, wine tastings in centuries old vineyards, truffle hunting excursions, curator-led private tours of some of the world’s most mystifying ancient sites and museums…the opportunities are virtually endless! We also provide culturally enriching programs to all destinations we serve—including outstanding Cuba people-to-people opportunities—that take travelers to interact with locals and showcase the people, culture, customs, music, food, art and natural wonders of each place. All of our cultural travel itineraries are developed to have travelers live the magic and essence of each destination in immersive and unforgettable ways.

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