Let's get right to it!
This is a 45 year old company you probably haven't heard about. They are the parent behind Funjet, Southwest Vacations, United Vacations and Blue Sky Vacations. They sell vacation packages (air, hotel, transfers, insurance) around the world and recently merged with Apple Travel which includes Travel Impressions (one of our favorites to deal with). Their presentation focused on their large negotiated hotel inventory, and unique booking engines designed for travel agents. They also do charter flights (many times cheaper than commercial air).
If you're looking to go to Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribeean, Florida or really anywhere the airlines go, Mark Travel probably has a pretty good deal going. Why be on your own when you can book through a volume packager?
Avalon offers river cruises. In their presentation, the highlighted their cabins designed with panoramic views with beds that face outward. They also have added the ability to have dinner anytime from 7 to 8:30
They offer three fundamentally different kinds of excursions:
The Active Discovery tours offer different cities, spend more time in port each day and have more day sailings so you can watch the landscape go by.
And they made two more announcements:
Avalon is part of the Globus family of brands (see below)
Globus is a major tour operator that has three key brands:
Globus: Providing travel packages for 90 years, this family owned company sells top rated escorted land tours with lots of inclusions. All the details are pre arranged with sufficient time on your own, great hotels in great locations and skip the line tours
Globus suggested that while many travelers have done Italy, they've missed many parts of the country. The are now selling a lot of "off the beaten path" Italy tours for those that have done the Rome, Florence, Venice route. We've always found Globus to be one of the great travel companies out there; excellent service and a wide range of destinations.
Oceania is a 15 year old cruise line is one we are very familiar with. This is how they view themselves:
The upper premium cruise category was really created by Oceania (somewhere between luxury brands like Regent and Silversea and premium lines like Celebrity or Holland America). They market to 55 and up couples who are experienced travelers.
New this year:
While Oceania is not ALL inclusive, they are very inclusive; for example there's never an additional charge to dine at any specialty restaurant. Airfare is included with at concierge level staterooms and suites, unlimited soft drinks, water, coffee and 24 hr/day room service. Nice!
We know from both personal experience and feedback from our clients that Oceania delivers exactly what they promise.
Regent is in the same family as Oceania but is their luxury entrant. They boast that they are the most inclusive luxury experience (not just cruises but travel experience). Their ships are all suites with walk in closets. Between 2016 and 2018, Regent underwent $125 million in refurbishment of their fleet. They have four ships between 490 and 750 passengers. And will be launching a new ship in 2020.
What's not included? the Spa, the gift shop and the casino. After all, passengers have to have something to spend on board credit on. Excursions? Included. Business class airfare? Included. Food, drinks...check.
While Regent does offer promotions (yesterday, they were offering a three category upgrade for no cost), their value proposition is important. Because so much is included, their initial price point appears very high. Yet, after pricing out all the inclusions, we have found them to be competitive. To find out more read our post: Alternative supplier case study - Regent Cruises.
Norwegian is owned by the same company that owns Regent and Oceania. What was their key messages:
They also asked us to be aware of the following:
Is NCL one of the great travel companies? By continuing to innovate (freestyle dining, NCL Bliss Go Karts, etc) they certainly are.
Our first day we speed dated with Crystal, Oceania, Carnival, Insight Vacations, Contiki, AmaWaterways, Royal Caribbean, Windstar and Celebrity. We heard plenty from Avoya about sales growth and marketing. We even had a one on one meeting with Globus about a group we're working on. A very productive day.
The second day we heard from some of the top travel industry leaders. The amount of product offerings (land,ocean, river, budget, luxury, etc) are truly astounding. We heard about travel industry growth and re-investment, travel trends and lots about how various acompanies are giving back. Speakers included Travel Corp, Uniworld, Silversea, Windstar, Crystal, AmaWaterways, CLIA, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity
At our third day we listened to presentations from American Cruise Lines, Sandals, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Collette, Shore Trips, Viking Cruises, Allianz Insurance, Contiki, Cost Saver, Trafalgar, Brendon Vacations, Insight, Luxury Gold, Playa Resorts, Club Med, MSC, Amtrak and Rail Brokers, Mark Travel, Avalon, Globus Tours, Oceania, Regent and Norwegian.
And don't miss our posts on the Norwegian Bliss, which we spent two days at the end of Conference and my Presidents Circle post.
Interested in learning more about any of the great products? I'm happy to help explain how it might fit your particular interests.