Vacation.com welcomed more than 1,200 travel agents to its 12th international conference and trade show in Orlando this week. Led by CEO Steve Tracas, the group was in high spirits as growth continues at a rapid pace – in the first six months of the year it has added 260 new members, 165 in the U.S. and 95 in Canada.
The group is targeting large agencies with a luxury focus for continued growth. It has added several higher-end suppliers in the past year, including Kensington Tours, Insight Vacations, Smithsonian Journeys, Oceania Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
“There probably isn’t another organization out there that produces more luxury sales,” said Tracas. “We produce almost $300 million in aggregate luxury sales.”
To attract new members V.com is touting the benefits of its free Engagement direct mail and email marketing program; EZ Guider, the group’s proprietary leisure travel booking tool; Vacation Vignettes, which feature hosted cocktail receptions and unique shore excursions on cruises and a Hotel Elite program, offering special amenities at more than 150 properties worldwide.
Tracas says Vacation.com’s focus is to help train members on selling more preferred suppliers, something the group was aiming to during its conference, as well as through a new series of regional meetings and owner/manager mixers around the country. Those sessions have already begun and will continue throughout the year.
The group unveiled more details of a program called Engagement Select, which allows V.com to tap into the back office systems of its members to get information on past passenger travel. That will be used to better target direct and email marketing efforts through the Engagement program. “If we’ve learned anything from 2009, it’s that you need to aggressively market,” said Tracas. “We have the tools out there with relevant content to do that.”