Jeff Clarke, president of Travel Impressions, welcomed attendees at Travel Impressions’ Best of the Best event. // © 2015 Samantha Davis-Friedman
Feature image (above): Travel Impressions’ Best of the Best kickoff party was held at Secrets The Vine Cancun. // © Samantha Davis-Friedman
From Nov. 19-22, Travel Impressions held its annual Best of The Best event at Secrets The Vine Cancun to celebrate its top agents and preferred suppliers and provide news on some exciting changes for the brand. Some 360 attendees took part in the event, which consisted of general sessions, a supplier trade show, activities and spa treatments for agents and more. The weekend festivities ended with a cocktail party and Best of the Best gala awards dinner.
Over the course of the weekend, Travel Impressions’ top travel agent partners — who collectively represent 60 percent of the brand’s revenue — were honored for their accomplishments over the past year and were the first to learn about new programs, products and marketing that the company is implementing in the coming year, including a new logo and tagline, new agent programs and new properties and destinations.
The new tagline — “Your Success is Our Destination” — supports the brand’s longstanding agent-driven focus and, according to Erin McCarthy, vice president of marketing for Travel Impressions, not only points to how the company treats its employees, but also to how it treats its customers.
“Our new branding and positioning illustrate our commitment to providing quality in all that Travel Impressions offers,” said Jeff Clarke, president and CEO. “And, while Travel Impressions has always been committed to the success of agents, now they will be reminded each time they see our name.”
In addition, Travel Impressions is taking the commitment to its travel agent partners to a new level with LoyalTI First, a new program launching Jan. 1 that will reward agents with LoyalTI points for every booking.
“From a loyalty standpoint, we needed to thank our partners for their loyalty and create a loyalty program for them in return,” Clarke said, acknowledging that these programs are very valuable to agents.
LoyalTI First also offers agents increased opportunities for earning with monthly promotions designed to help maximize profitability, as well as exclusive bonus-point offers on the most popular hotels and airlines. Registration for the program begins Dec. 1.
2016 will also see the launch of a new travel agent platform that will be easier to use and allows agents to have more control over their bookings.
“The Ultimate Agent Platform will make agents more efficient and more effective,” Clarke said. “And it will clearly set us apart from any competitors in the marketplace.”
Hand in hand with Travel Impressions’ new branding and new loyalty incentives come new properties and destinations, including Cuba.
“The world wants to go to Cuba,” said Jacqueline Kuehnel, vice president of product development for Apple Leisure Group, Travel Impressions’ parent company.
Beginning on Nov. 23, Travel Impressions will accept bookings for its two brand-new tours in Cuba: the 11-day, 10-night Rhythms of Cuba and the eight-day, seven-night Expressions of Cuba, both operating through the People to People program. The tours depart from Miami International Airport and New York’s JFK International Airport, with connections available from all major U.S. gateways.
Rhythms of Cuba offers an in-depth journey through this intriguing destination, with an itinerary designed to give travelers opportunities to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, including a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana, and chances to experience the distinct music genre of “danzon” and family-run dining known as “paladar.”
Expressions of Cuba features four days in Havana contrasted with the artisanal culture of Matanzas City and agriculturally significant Varadero, where travelers will experience Cuban rural life. Both tours include accommodations, meals and activities, as well as charter flights departing from New York or Miami and a tour guide throughout the trip.
“Cuba is a destination with a diverse and fascinating character, from its infectious rhythms to a time-capsule version of early 1960s Americana,” Clarke said. “Our Cuba programs are uniquely crafted to exemplify the true meaning of cultural immersion.”