MAC Chat: An Interview with MailPound's August MVP

by Admin 9/22/2010 4:28:00 AM
     
 

 
     
     
 

This week's MAC Chat features our interview with MailPound's August MVP, Jason Izzi of VIP Vacations, Inc.  

Why did you decide to become involved in the travel industry and were you in a different industry prior? 
I became involved by accident. I was planning several trips while in high school, and really enjoyed it. As time went on it became a passion to be a part of making great memories for my clients. I was in the customer service industry my whole life.

What was the biggest obstacle (if any) that you had to overcome in the beginning of your career as a travel professional?
I think my biggest obstacle was finding a host company I could trust. I only had to go through one before finding my current company. I signed on with VIP Vacations Inc. and that has been the best decision of my travel career. I can honestly say that I work with the best team in the travel industry.

What is the best marketing technique that you use to reach your clients and how do you get them to become repeat clients? 

I use several. I use the social media outlets that are available, and have had some positive outcomes with them. I also do several mailings a year with my sales letters. I advertise in the local papers and the wedding sections of those papers. I still find that word of mouth is the best.

What is the most challenging aspect of this industry for you? 
I would say the state of our economy. Although, this year has been good so far I still think people have in their head that it is too expensive to travel. If they only knew the deals out there I feel they would reconsider. Everybody needs to take a vacation, all work and no play is not healthy.

What do you enjoy the most about this industry and what is your best advice for travel agents just beginning their career?
I enjoy turning my clients travel dreams into lifelong memories. My passion is working with a client to meet their budget and overcoming all obstacles in the way of that once in a lifetime vacation. What makes all of this possible is working with a great team. I believe that I work for the best travel agency in the industry in Vip Vacations Inc. They truly are the best at what we do. I am lucky to work for them.

My advice to new agents is to educate yourself about the industry. Find a company that you can trust and that will help you along. There are many companies that will collect a big fee and then you will be left on your own. Last but certainly not least is follow up! Do not leave your clients and potential clients hanging. Follow up with them either through email, text, or a phone call. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

 
     

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MAC Chat: An Interview with Mitch Schlesinger, Voyages to Antiquity

by Admin 9/2/2010 5:35:00 AM
 

 
 

Interview with Mitch Schlesinger from VOYAGES TO ANTIQUITY 



For more information go to www.voyagestoantiquity.com

  
Mitch Schlesinger
Vice President, Sales and Marketing 
VOYAGES TO ANTIQUITY

What is the most interesting thing that you have learned while operating during the inaugural season?
It is extremely rewarding to see how many travelers are interested in an experience that includes the unique enriching and educational product approach we are offering, featuring the amazing sites from civilizations thousands of years old and the ability to experience foods and wines from throughout the region. The MOST interesting thing we learned is that there is a HUGE audience in the 40-60 year old demographic that would like to sail with us, but could not due to the length of trips in 2010.

So what has changed for 2011 to provide this audience with this opportunity?
  • All itineraries have been re-designed as 14-16 day Cruise-Tours (ala Orient Lines), featuring a cruise (7-12 nights) + included pre and/or post cruise hotel stays (2-3 nights) in Rome, Athens, Istanbul and Cairo.
  • The full itineraries are still 14-16 days for the audience who has plenty of time.
  • The sailings themselves are now anywhere from 7-12 nights for those with limited time, but want an in depth destination experience of this nature.
  • This is particularly important for the younger demographic who needs and wants to travel in the summer.
  • New destinations include a unique Black Sea cruise (including Russia, Georgia, Ukraine & Bulgaria), Corsica, Sardinia and a return to Libya on two n. Africa itineraries.

How should travel agents approach selling the product for 2011?
  • The redesign of the itineraries provides them with a significantly expanded audience to promote the product.
  • For mature travelers 60 + with more time, they can promote the full itineraries.
  • For more of a baby boomer audience (40-60) who are still actively working and have limited time, they can just take the cruise. Or in the case of our seven (7) night sailings in July and August, they can opt for either the pre or post cruise hotel stay (2 or 3 nights) plus the 7 night cruise and do the entire trip in 11 days..

Does this change how travel agents should target customers?

  • Agents should still be looking for clients who can travel at least 10 days roundtrip and have experience traveling internationally
  • As mentioned above, now they can promote to clients 40 + years of age due to the shorter sailings.
  • The best targets also have a history of spending in excess of $3,500 + pp.
  • There is a very strong crossover from clients who have taken river cruises and longer land tours.
  • The product will have a distinctive appeal to clients with interests in history, art, architecture, theology, etc.

Are there any booking incentives for 2011?
  • We are offering FREE AIR to guests who book by December 31, 2010.
  • The Aegean Odyssey also has 16 dedicated single cabins with only a 15 % supplement....as long as they last.
  • Once they are sold, we still have guest-friendly single supplements of 25-75% depending on the category in double occupancy staterooms.

Thank you Mitch!

 
     

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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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