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Avoya National Conference Day 3 afternoon sessions

We continue where we left off - listening to presentations from great travel companies.  Here's our summary of Day 1, Day 2 and the morning sessions of Day 3.

Let's get right to it!

Mark Travel

Susan Wolfson of Go Astro Travel sells Funjet Funjet packaged vacations

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:

  1. Classic excursions - ensuring you see the iconic sites of your destinations
  2. Discovery excursions - offering engaging experiences such as wine or beer tasting, paint class
  3. Active adventurer - Featuring biking, canoeing, hiking and jogging tours

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:

  • By retiring some of their older vessels, by 2019 all the ships will have a new suite fleet
  • Avalon will be sailing the Ganges River using a 56 passenger ship.

Avalon is part of the Globus family of brands (see below)

Globus Touring

Globus is a major tour operator that has three key brands:

  • Book a Globus escorted tour with Go Astro Travel Off the beaten path in Italy with Globus

    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

  • Cosmos: Land tours at a lower price point than Globus but still with included meals, great hotels and take the worry out of travel logistics
  • Monograms: For the do it yourself traveler, Monograms provides a light touch experience. They will pre book your hotel, offer an overview city tour and lots of time on your own. There's always a local expert close by to get all the insider information as well.

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 - one of the great travel companies


Oceania is a 15 year old cruise line is one we are very familiar with.  This is how they view themselves:

  • Intimate, Luxury ships holding between 684 and 1200 passengers
  • The best food at sea
  • Destination focused. They add about 20 new ports each year in search of new itineraries

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:

  • All staterooms will get free internet (previously this was an O Life choice).
  • Concierge level cabins will get laundry included (nice touch)
  • La Reserve restaurant will now feature a wine and tapas bar

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 Seven Seas

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 (NCL)

Book NCL with Go Astro Travel Go Karts on Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian is owned by the same company that owns Regent and Oceania.  What was their key messages:

  • Their newest ship is the Norwegian Bliss which features 30 dining venues, a brew house, laser tag, go karts and an aqua park.  Here's our write up from our 2 night inaugural cruise.
  • Norwegian is no longer selling on price. Rather they emphasize the value proposition. What does that mean?  That means they include amenities like open bar, specialty dining, WiFi, Excursions and friends/family rates that have value but are already built into the price.  They rely on travel agents to help consumers understand the value of these inclusions

They also asked us to be aware of the following:

  • Promotions such as their June promotion which adds an additional amenity
  • If an upgrade is possible, they will actually let consumer bid on the upgrade cost
  • They have moved final payment from 90 days to 120 days prior to departure
  • Their top three destinations currently are Havana Cuba and their two private beaches (one in Belize)

Is NCL one of the great travel companies?  By continuing to innovate (freestyle dining, NCL Bliss Go Karts, etc) they certainly are.

Today's take aways

  • Regent, Oceania and Norwegian continue to evolve their products
  • Land tours - either fully or partialy escorted continue to be very popular among travelers
  • Vacation packagers are relying on technology to deliver their products. And that should mean more selection and better values for the consumer

Avoya Conference Summary:

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.

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