By Guy Britton
ATLANTA — The Caribbean was well represented at one of the longest running and largest travel agent educational events of the year last week: Delta Vacations University, which took place at the Georgia International Convention Center and showcased over 200 destinations, hotels and product representatives. The event was sold out again this year drawing over 1,300 delegates from the US and Canada.
The event showcases Delta Vacations, which is managed by MLT Vacations, one of the largest vacation providers in the United States, making it a major force in the Caribbean travel industry in particular.
The educational seminars were well attended in fact some were standing room only. Comprehensive destination information was presented by professionals in the seminars and several Caribbean tourism offices attended sessions.
More importantly, the Caribbean was clearly one of the more popular areas of the trade show.
So what’s next for Delta Vacations in the Caribbean?
Caribbean Journal had the opportunity to sit down with senior executives and discuss Delta Vacations’ plans for growth in the Caribbean and just how important the Caribbean is for them. Jennie Ho, President, Elizabeth Moriarty, VP of product development, Eric Fandek, Senior Director of Product Development shared insights and discussed plans with us in the interview below.
Why are Travel agents more important today than ever before?
Jennie Ho: In our line of business as the vacation package provider, our travel agent partners are in a position of trust and are focused on the customer. Travelers are investing in high-value vacation packages for their families and their loved ones. Even though there is so much information available in so many channels, customers count on agencies for important, all-encompassing services. That human connection is so important and at the core of what we value.
What are Delta Vacations’ plans for new Caribbean destinations?
Elizabeth Moriarty: Overall we continue to grow capacity and are bullish on the Caribbean region.
Eric Fandek: We try to match inventory with demand. Right now we are seeing growth in a number of areas including multi-generational family travel and demand for all inclusive product. When new inventory or newly-renovated product comes available there is great interest in those destinations. We are seeing more Demand in Nassau Bahamas due to interest in Baha Mar and renovations at Atlantis.
Overall we continue to grow capacity and are bullish on the Caribbean region.”
In what ways does Delta Vacations support destinations?
Elizabeth Moriarty: The number one way we support destinations is by flying our planes to the destination. Nobody is driving to the Caribbean. We also support new service and work with governments to understand and support the need grow service. We also work with out hotel, destination management companies to market the destination and sell product.
What are Delta’s and Delta Vacations’ largest growth destinations in the Caribbean?
Elizabeth Moriarty: That does vary year to year but what we are seeing right now is growth, particularly in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. We are also seeing good growth in Nassau and Aruba. For us as a company, the Caribbean continues to be a strength destination and the Caribbean continues to be very important to us. One of the great things about the Caribbean right now is the refreshing of the product offering. Great things are happening in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and we continue to be bullish on the region.
Which Caribbean Destinations might see see additional bookings because of Irma and Maria?
Elizabeth Moriarty First of all, our hearts go out to all the people in the affected areas. What we are seeing right now is a slight shift to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic
How will technology change travel in the coming months and years?
Elizabeth Moriarty There is so much information out there that the customer can become confused. So we are working on ways the customer can quickly identify what they are looking for, improve the customer interface and customer experience to make it easier and more intuitive to book. We are also working in many cases on direct connectivity with out partners so we have access to booking and inventory control in real-time.
Jennie Ho: We only sell Delta so our customer benefits from all the investments Delta is making in things like mobile check-in and testing of new technologies like retina scanning for faster boarding, security and a better customer experience.