A Time for Transition

Classic welcomes agents to Hawaii to give thanks and updates

By: Terra Judge

This is the first Image
Tim MacDonald, president, Classic Vacations
(left), and Greg Bernd, vice president of sales
(right), present the award for Travel Agency -
Single Location Highest Gross Sales to Bob
and Donna McMillen, TravelWizard.com.
This year’s Classic Marketing Partner Event, held Nov. 29-Dec. 2, was the last for Ron Letterman, vice chairman and senior advisor of Classic Vacations, and his farewell speech brought tears to the eyes of many attending agents. Letterman’s retirement will mark a change for the company, but according to company representatives it’s a transition that the tour operator is well prepared for under the leadership of president Tim MacDonald.

“It has been a real privilege over the last nine months working with Letterman,” said MacDonald. “He’s a legend in the industry.”

Classic welcomed the top 100 single-location agents and top 50 multi-location agents to the Partner Event as a thank you for their support of the company, and to recognize the agents’ hard work and motivate them for the year to come.

Both Letterman and MacDonald opined that Classic’s success is based on its impressive assortment of luxury offerings. Those offerings will increase in 2008, especially in the Hawaii sector.

The Partner Event took place at the Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu, giving the property a chance to show off recent renovations, including redesigned guestrooms. Other Classic properties that have undergone makeovers include the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, and Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort. New to the collection is the Wyland Waikiki, while three new homes in the Pineapple Hills Estates in Kapalua have joined Classic’s collection of private homes and villas.

The Hertz Classic VIP Service has also been enhanced for 2008, an announcement that was met with applause at the event. Two new benefits are available: Travel agents can now arrange to have a rental car delivered directly to the client’s hotel, and valet car return is available to clients renting Hertz Prestige Collection vehicles, a service that allows clients to be dropped off in their rental car directly at their departing airport terminal.

Letterman noted that both he and MacDonald are firm believers that “marketing starts with product.”

Classic’s product has expanded in destinations besides Hawaii. Forty-one properties are new in Europe, including golf resorts in Scotland, castles in Ireland and properties in Evian and Crete. River barging in southern France, gastronomic tours in Barcelona, cultural tours in Croatia and hot-air balloon rides in Tuscany are also now available through Classic.

Classic has also added 19 properties in Mexico, including the Rosewood Mayakoba and Mandarin Oriental; 26 properties in Australia and New Zealand and added Air Pacific as a flight partner. New properties have been added in the Caribbean and additional locations will soon be announced in Fiji.

Also announced was a Web site revamp that includes a new agent-specific section on ClassicVacations.com.