Classic Vacations Enhances Travel Opportunities

Travel wholesaler keeps competitive with new agent tools, services and specials

By: Naz Papen
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is one of many Hawaii properties that Classic is currently promoting. // © 2010 Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is one of many Hawaii properties that Classic is currently promoting. // © 2010 Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Classic Vacations

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Throughout its history, Classic Vacations has promised a commitment to excellence and dedication to travel agents. In keeping with that philosophy, the wholesaler says it will further elevate its Hawaii programs for agents and their clients during the remainder of 2010 and into next year.

The luxury travel company intends to remain competitive in Hawaii during the economic downturn by emphasizing agent education, launching new offers, reviving promotions that have proven successful in the past and staying focused on customer service.

These objectives are intended to bolster the company’s overall mission “to help luxury travel professionals deliver superior customer satisfaction so that they can create and retain loyal customers for life,” said Classic Vacations co-president Greg Bernd.

“We are dedicated to keeping travel agents constantly aware of the best deals available,” said Bernd. “Some hotels have anywhere from 15 to 20 specials out there — a third- or fourth-night free program, daily buffet breakfast, programs that cater to lifestyles, etc. — and we want to make sure that they are accessible to our travel agents.”

As it monitors the most compelling offers available in the marketplace and keeps them current on its system, Classic Vacations hopes to demonstrate its industry savvy while helping travelers get the most out of their
Hawaii vacations. In order to ensure client satisfaction and superior customer service, the wholesaler dedicates a great deal of time and energy to training its new staff members, said Bernd.

“On the U.S. West Coast alone, we have eight business development managers who are out there in full force, constantly teaching travel agents about what’s new and what’s exciting,” said Bernd, regarding Classic’s agent
education program.

Following a two-year development process, Classic recently unveiled its brand-new travel agent booking engine, which enables travel agents to book getaways efficiently online and earn their full commission without completely cutting Classic’s reservations staff out of the picture.

“We really pride ourselves on the knowledge and expertise of our reservations department,” said Bernd. “Since our reservation agents have such strong relationships with our travel agents, we have given travel agents the opportunity to assign a direct booking to a reservation agent, regardless of whether or not they spoke to one another.”

In order to further support its travel partners, Classic has made the new booking engine available around the clock. After-hours and weekend access means that travel agents have the opportunity to address every concern before finalizing a transaction.

For the remainder of 2010, Classic is encouraging Hawaii bookings through value-added promotions. The addition of these money-saving deals comes in response to a recent slowdown in business following a strong first and second quarter, said Bernd.

“Just a few weeks ago, for instance, we relaunched a program known as our $500 air credit, available in conjunction with some of the best hotel deals at nearly all of the properties we represent,” said Bernd. “We’re running some great specials to stimulate travel to the destination once again.”

Currently, Classic’s website provides such attractive promotions as the Classic Romance package at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Hawaii’s Big Island. Priced from $1,319 per person for four nights, the package includes daily buffet breakfast for two, a one-time $100 dinner credit, use of a convertible rental car, sparkling wine and a chocolate amenity upon arrival, $100 resort credit and free parking — an offer that saves couples $600.
Meanwhile, thanks to new airlift opportunities to the islands, Classic Vacations’ Hawaii portfolio now includes multiple secondary cities around the U.S.

“For example, Alaska Airlines has added service out of Oakland and San Jose, Calif., and Continental has added service out of Orange County, Calif., which we haven’t been able to offer since the demise of Aloha Airlines,” said Bernd. “We are trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get to the destination and take advantage of the greatest values available in Hawaii.”

Looking ahead to 2011, Bernd remained upbeat about travel to Hawaii and his company’s efforts to stimulate business to the islands.

“There are a lot of new things that are coming out of Classic, and we’re constantly being innovative,” said Bernd. “We are optimistic for the future.”
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