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Aeromexico recently announced that MLT Vacations has been chosen to manage and operate the Aeromexico Vacations brand for the U.S. and Canada markets. The new partnership will offer high-value vacation packages to top leisure destinations throughout the country, including Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Oaxaca, Merida and others. Ken Pomerantz, president of MLT Vacations, spoke with TravelAge West about the benefits that the partnership will provide for travel agents and their clients.
Q: What is MLT’s goal in creating this relationship with Aeromexico? How will it enhance MLT’s portfolio in Mexico?MLT has been offering vacations to Mexico for more than 40 years and has impressive product offerings in Mexico’s most important tourist destinations, as well as strong relationships with supplier partners, destination-marketing partners and government officials. This partnership with Aeromexico further strengthens our commitment to the destination, as well as to our travel agent partners, by offering high-value, leisure vacation packages to key beach and cultural destinations across Mexico and Latin America. In addition, MLT Vacations can offer the best hotel inventory and a variety of tours and unique amenities for their customers to enjoy.
Q: How do you think this partnership helps travel agents in the Western U.S.?Through Aeromexico Vacations, MLT will provide travel agents, especially in the Western U.S. — where Aeromexico has its largest presence today — with access to a huge number of additional flight options for their clients, particularly from markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Calif., Denver, Las Vegas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas, which offer nonstop flights into many cities in Mexico and Latin America. Furthermore, travel agents in markets such as Salt Lake City, Seattle, Phoenix and Austin, Texas, will have access to connecting flights through Aeromexico and their code-share partners.
Q: What kind of training or other resources are on offer to agents?The new partnership extends the benefits that MLT Vacations already offers to agents, including guaranteed lowest fares, access to every seat on the aircraft, commission on all airfares and land components and specialty products including destination weddings and Flexible Getaways. Plus, their clients will receive the frequent flier miles flown and bonus miles on every booking. We also offer industry-leading training programs such as MLT University, one of the largest travel agent training events of its kind, which will be held Sept. 22-24 this year. At the event, we expect to host a record number of travel agents from across the U.S. and Canada.
Q: What could this mean for some of the less-visited destinations in Mexico?In working with Aeromexico, we are excited about giving travel agents more access to some of the colonial cities in Mexico, as well as the resort areas. Many vacationers will have a one-stop connection to these destinations through Mexico City. This makes it much easier for agents to book vacations from the U.S. and Canada to many of the appealing, yet harder to reach, destinations.
Q: When will agents be able to access Aeromexico Vacations through MLT?Because the Aeromexico Vacations brand does not currently exist in the marketplace, MLT Vacations will be building and launching the brand from the ground up. Therefore, there are still a number of things that MLT Vacations and Aeromexico will have to finalize, but we are excited about the potential for launch this summer, perhaps as early as June.
Q: What advice do you have for agents who might be dealing with clients’ negative perceptions of Mexico?Travel agents should not downplay their customers concerns. Agents should talk openly and honestly about what they know and what they have experienced. That also means that travel agents should put misinformation in the proper context. We recommend that travel agents do the following:
• Stay up to date on any news regarding the destination. One great place to find current information is WorldAgent Direct, our travel agent booking portal. There we provide talking points, recent news articles and statistics, maps of Mexico and links to the Mexico Tourism Board’s website.
• Use facts and statistics to provide context on what’s really happening in Mexico’s resort areas. For example, the distance between the areas of drug-related violence in Mexico and the resort areas is roughly equivalent to the distance between Miami and Chicago. It’s like saying you don’t want to go to Chicago because of violence in Miami.
• If clients are concerned about leaving the resort, show them the value of all-inclusive properties and of booking tours and excursions before they leave for the destination.
• Advise common-sense precautions that are relevant to any major city in the world, such as not to wander alone at night, wear flashy valuables, etc.
• Most importantly, speak from personal experience. Clients will appreciate hearing first-hand accounts. If you haven’t been to Mexico in a while, you should go. That way, you will have current and relevant information to share.
On April 27, after this story went to press, MLT Vacations announced senior level management changes at the company. As part of these changes, Ken Pomerantz is stepping down as president.
Here is an official statement about the changes from MLT Vacations:
MLT Vacations and parent company Delta Air Lines, have begun to implement strategic improvements in order to provide an enhanced level of service and support for travel agents and their clients. As part of these efforts, senior level organizational changes at MLT Vacations have been announced.
John Caldwell has been named president of MLT Vacations. Under Caldwell’s leadership, MLT Vacations will be undergoing an evaluation of the organization and business practices in order to identify opportunities to deliver an even higher level of service and support to travel agents and their clients.
“John has served many years in leadership roles within the sales and marketing organizations first at Northwest and now at Delta,” said Steve Sear, SVP of Global Sales for Delta Air Lines. “Throughout his career he has had numerous opportunities to work with MLT Vacations to develop and implement successful programs for travel agent customers, and I know he is looking forward to building even stronger relationships with the travel agent community in his new role.”
“Travel agents are an integral part of MLT Vacations business, and we remain committed to our travel agent partners,” said Caldwell. “There are no changes planned for the way we do business with travel agents, and their standing with MLT Vacations will remain the same, as will their commission levels and reward opportunities. We are now focused on providing travel agents with exceptional customer service throughout this leadership transition and far into the future.”