Golden Apple

Sponsored Content: John Tarkowski, president of Apple Vacations, explains how the company has been committed to the success of travel agencies for 50 years

An inaugural flight to the Bahamas © 2019 Apple Vacations

An inaugural flight to the Bahamas © 2019 Apple Vacations

Q: Kenneth Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief: Tell us about the start of Apple Vacations.

A: Apple Vacations was founded by John Mullen in 1969 in a small storefront location in Pennsylvania, selling group tours to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii and Ireland. Shortly after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, Apple Vacations began chartering flights to Cancun and Bermuda, and was among the first to introduce all-inclusive vacations to the U.S. market. In 1988, Apple Vacations representatives began meeting customers in resorts and assisting them throughout their stay. By then, Apple was offering charter flights to a variety of beach destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.

Q: Why do you think your company has been successful after so many years?

A: Apple Vacations’ success is largely due to the support of the travel agent community. We have remained committed to the success of travel advisors from day one, driving business to agencies through innovative marketing initiatives and even from our consumer website.

Also playing a significant role in our success are our employees who work each day to provide the best service possible. 

Q: What makes Apple Vacations unique?

A: We were a pioneer to many destinations including Cancun, Punta Cana and Huatulco. We are one of few remaining tour operators that drive demand with our Exclusive Nonstop Vacation Flights. Apple Vacations is the first-born of the Apple Leisure Group Family, the nation’s only hospitality company with a vertically integrated business model, enabling us to deliver exceptional value and service from the beginning to end of the vacation experience. Our sister company, AMResorts, is North America’s fastest-growing luxury leisure resort company, and we’ve been able to share in its success as well.

Q: Do you have any traditions that tell us more about your company?

A: Apple Vacations is the only tour operator that rates hotels based solely on customer feedback, with the Golden Apple and Crystal Apple honor awarded to hotels that achieve outstanding scores on our Vacation Satisfaction surveys. 

Q: Why do you continue to work with travel advisors?

A: The vast majority of Apple Vacations bookings come from travel advisors. We’ve developed strong relationships with them over the past five decades, and we depend on each other — it’s a win-win relationship. Without the backing of advisors, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Quite honestly, they can communicate the value a tour operator brings to the end-client better than we can, and it has been proven repeatedly that customers who utilize a travel agency are more satisfied with their vacation than those who don’t. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Q: How does your long involvement in the industry benefit advisors?

A: Apple Vacations is currently celebrating 50 years in business, and we’ve delivered dream vacations to tens of millions of leisure travelers. The relationships we’ve built with airline and hotel suppliers enable us to negotiate better rates and to get things fixed quickly should something go wrong. Our experience and buying power enable us to deliver the highest standards of quality and service.