Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Bucket List Trips Have Become To Do Trips

I have just returned from ALG Vacations Annual Ascend Conference and

I am very happy to report that the mood was decidedly upbeat and optimistic about the future of travel. Over 700 travel advisors and industry suppliers came together at the Cancun Convention Center for several days of education and networking. The attending agents reported being energized by what they are seeing coming in as demand for travel in 2022.  

 

Attendees were witness to an inspiring keynote speech from Erik Weihenmayer, an adventurer who has not let his blindness prevent him from such amazing feats as climbing Mt. Everest, rock climbing El Capitan and kayaking the length of the Grand Canyon. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy star, Carson Kressley, was the host of the conference and kept the audience entertained. Advisor delegates participated in two supplier trade shows and supplier lead training sessions as well as having the opportunity to hear, and ask questions of, a panel of ALGV top executives. At night delegates were treated to an entertainment filled event at Dreams Vista and a Voices of Rock concert at the Hard Rock Cancun. Advisor delegates also had the opportunity to participate in pre-conference FAM trips to multiple AM Resorts and other ALGV partner properties in the region.

 

Several new initiatives were announced during the conference. ALGV will be launching a new ALGV Specialist certification program in 2022. According to Jackie Marks, executive vice president for ALG Vacations, the new program will include 100’s of new modules in an organized, sequential order. Advisors that complete certification will be eligible for perks like FAM trips, time with BDM’s and their Elite Account Program. Apple Vacations announced an expansion of their product line with more than 1,000+ new destinations, expanding its footprint into six continents. The company, which is best known for its beach vacation product line to Mexico, Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean, is now offering the same expansive product line as its ALG Vacations sister companies, with the exception of Disney hotels.

 

Alejandro Reynal, CEO of ALG Group, discussed the pending $2.7 billion acquisition by Hyatt Hotels noting that ALG would remain a separate entity and a number of growth focused initiatives were already underway. “The acquisition by Hyatt will give ALG a home in what has become an arms race in the Mexican and Caribbean all-inclusive market”.

 

ALGV Group President Ray Snisky addressed how the company had handled the over 1.2 million passengers during the pandemic, noting that over 35% had been rebooked and of those, 40% are due to travel before June 2022. He also noted that through this process, consumers have also come to better appreciate the value of booking through a Travel Advisor. Continuing with the positive news Snisky announced that group business for 2021 was up 20% over 2019 and overall 2021 will be a better year than 2019, which is the benchmark year for most industry suppliers.

 

While at the conference I had a chance to sit down with Kathryn Mazza, EVP, and Nicole Mazza, CMO of Travelsavers and NEST. They also shared the positive news that their agent members who attended their recent Affluent Traveler Symposium and Owners Focus Meeting were very optimistic and excited about current trends. They noted that higher end, luxury products were leading the recovery and Nicole gave me the quote which is the title of this article “Travel Bucket lists are now becoming Travel To Do Lists.” This reflects the pent-up nature of demand, and the realization that there are no guarantees in life, and the ability to travel and have new experiences should not be taken for granted. 

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